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How Long do I have to File My Personal Injury Claim in California?

California statutes of limitations are deadlines by which personal injury and employment civil claims. They vary depending upon the type of claim, against whom the claim is brought and other factors. I thought I would summarize some of the more important ones as follows:

What is a statute of limitations?

Every state has these laws which set forth deadlines for filing lawsuits for civil damages. The purpose of these enactments is to ensure that “stale” claims where evidence (including witnesses, documents, etc.) are not brought and to encourage people to bring claims in a timely manner.

What are the five most important time limits for filing CA personal injury and accident claims?
  1. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1: States that any claim for assault, battery or injury to another due to negligence, including wrongful death claims must be brought within two years of the date of the incident giving rise to the action. There are some exceptions to this rule if the matter is not discovered within the two years, however, this should NEVER be counted upon and one should always try to file a lawsuit for any of these types of claims within two years from the event causing injury or death.
  2. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 338: Requires any action to recover the value of property or cost of repair, including damage to motor vehicles, be filed within 3 years.
  3. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5: States that any claim for medical malpractice causing injury or death against any health care provider (including doctors, hospitals, nurses, nursing homes and other medical facilities) must be filed within 1 year of the discovery of the medical negligence).
  4. California Government Code Section 911.2: States that actions against government entities such as Cities, Towns, Counties, the State or any related departments or divisions must first file an administrative claim (often called a Government Tort Claim) within 6 months of the incident causing injury or death. If this claim is denied (which it most often is) you would only have an additional 6 months to file a civil action from the date the denial was mailed out. If the claim is not denied, the aggrieved party may have up to two years to file suit.
  5. California Code of Civil Procedure 337 and 339: Sometimes claims for personal injury rely upon oral or written contracts for their basis. Section 337 provides for a four year statute of limitation on written contracts and section 339 provides for a two year deadline for oral contracts. These run from the date of the breach or discovery of the breach of the agreement.
What are the legal deadlines for filing most CA wrongful termination claims?
  • Step 1: Most wrongful discharge of employment actions arise out of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which is codified in the Government Code. Most (but not all) of these types of claims require an “exhaustion of administrative remedies.” This is similar to the government claim process described above but, more streamlined. An initial claim is filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The party has the option to allow that entity to pursue investigation and prosecution of the claims on their behalf or to request a “right to sue” and a case closure so that the matter can be pursued by a private attorney. The deadline for filing this claim is one year from the date of termination or other “adverse employment action”.
  • Step 2: From the date of the issuance of the Notice of Case Closure and right to sue, the claimant has one year to file a lawsuit in court.

For claims arising out of other areas such as unpaid wages (including overtime), and for defamation or violation of the California Business and Professions code or the CA Labor Code, the deadlines range between 1 and four years. Every case should be examined for all potential claims and deadlines.

Why is it important to seek the advice of an attorney immediately?

If any of these deadlines are “blown”, a party may lose any and all rights to recovery. This may seem harsh but, it is the law. Sometimes even more important than these final deadlines is the need for prompt investigation and preservation of evidence so that a claim is not lost or diminished in value due to waiting. In addition, failure to seek both prompt medical attention and legal advice in personal injury claims can lead to a significant reduction in how defendants and, more importantly, their insurance carriers value the claims. For all these reasons, it is important to seek out the advice of a lawyer as immediately as possible.

California law, statutes of limitations, deadlines for filing claims

Legal Deadlines for Filing Civil Lawsuits in California

Client Reviews
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I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
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Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
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Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
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Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
★★★★★
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.