What are the California Statutes of Limitations?

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 6 minutes

What are the California Statutes of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a claim. If you file a claim after the statute of limitations has expired, your claim could be subject to denial. Every case is different and similarly the statute of limitations for every claim may vary depending on the circumstances. This is why it’s important to speak to a lawyer right away. You don’t want to risk the statute of limitations expiring and losing your right to a claim.

In California, and elsewhere, the “statute of limitations” operates as something of a deadline for each of your claims. The statute of limitations period gives you a set amount of time by which you have to file the applicable claim. If you wait too long and file after the statute of limitations period has expired, then your claim can (and likely will) be dismissed by the court.

Every case is different, and as such, the statute of limitations for every case is likely to vary depending on the circumstances. The dynamic nature of litigation can be quite confusing for those who are unfamiliar with the practice of law. Thus, it’s important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible — you don’t want to risk having the statute of limitations expire, as you’d lose your right to secure damages in a court of law.

Now, when it comes to the statutes of limitations, each state has its own set of rules. It’s therefore critical to understand the basics, and to keep these limitations top-of-mind as you move forward with filing a claim.

Some of the more commonly-encountered California statutes of limitations, as noted by the Judicial Branch of California, include:

Common California Statutes of Limitations

When it comes to statutes of limitations, each state has their own specification. It is important to understand and keep these limitations in mind if you are considering filing a claim. A few of the common California statutes of limitations, as stated by the Judicial Branch of California, include:

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The personal injury statute of limitations in California begins to run 2 years from the date of injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, however, then the statute of limitations period begins to run 1 year from the date that the injury was discovered.

Property Damage Statute of Limitations

The property damage statute of limitations in California begins to run 3 years from the date that the property damage occurred.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

The medical malpractice statute of limitations begins to run 1 year from the date that you discovered the injury, or 3 years from the actual date of the injury (whichever is the earlier date between the two).

Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations

In the workers’ compensation context, you — the injured employee — must notify your employer within 30 days of being injured to file a claim. Failure to do so could result in the loss of significant workers’ compensation benefits.

Sexual Harassment Statute of Limitations

In California, those who have been sexually harassed must file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within just 6 months of the date of sexual harassment at-issue.

Breach of Contract Statute of Limitations

In California, you have 4 years to file your breach of contract claim (from the date that the contract was broken) if the contract was in writing. If the contract was oral, then you only have 2 years from the date that the contract was broken.

Government Claims

According to the Judicial Branch of California, you must first file an administrative claim with the particular branch of the government that you are taking action against before you can sue in a court of law.

With respect to filing that initial administrative claim, you’ll be subject to a 6-month statute of limitations period. Specifically, you’ll have to file within 6 months (of the date of the inciting incident) for personal injury and property damage claims, and within 1 year for breach of contract and real property damage claims.

The Discovery Rule

California law establishes a number of exceptions allowing plaintiffs extra time to file their claims for the statute of limitations deadline. Perhaps the most important exception is known as the “Discovery Rule.”

The discovery rule carves out an exception whereby the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the date that the plaintiff discovers (or should discover) that they were actually injured and therefore entitled to bring legal action.

How does this work?

Suppose that you are involved in a low-speed car accident. You walk away thinking that you haven’t been injured, and in fact, early diagnostic tests by your doctor show that you didn’t suffer any serious injuries. Four years later, however, a CT scan reveals that you are suffering from spinal degeneration caused by the accident.

Now, California’s default personal injury deadline is 2 years from the date of the injury. If you attempted to file your claims four years later, it would — normally — fail, and the court would dismiss the claims. However, given the circumstances, you could take advantage of the discovery rule.

The court would give you a year to file the claims (starting from the date that you discovered the injury). Thus, you could file 4 years, or even 7 years after your injuries, and still have an actionable, legitimate claim.

Contact An Attorney For A Free Consultation

Regardless of the type of claim you are looking to file, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Here at 1-800-THE-LAW2, the California-based attorneys in our network can help you move forward with your claims while ensuring that you do so in a timely manner, without violating the statutes of limitations in California. Our skilled lawyers can let you know if you have a potential case over the phone.

Call us today to connect to an attorney in your area within just 10 minutes or less. Consultation is free and confidential, so don’t delay, as you could be putting your case at-risk of dismissal by waiting too long to file!

Our staff is available to help 24/7 in both English and Spanish. We look forward to speaking with you further.

SOURCES:

  1. American Association of University Women. Know Your Rights: Workplace Sexual Harassment. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  2. The Judicial Branch of California. Statute of Limitations. Retrieved February 24, 2015.

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