A statute of limitations is a statute, or law, that restricts the period of time, after certain events, that a person may initiate legal proceedings. These time limits vary depending on the type of case and the state where the particular cause of action occurred. After the time limit has passed, the injured person no longer has the right to sue to recovery money damages, unless a legal exception applies. The following provides a brief summary, in alphabetical order, of some of the limitations periods for the state of California for those actions related to personal injury, medical malpractice, and some products liability. Please contact a qualified California lawyer to find out how a statute of limitations applies to your situation.
An action based on injury or illness due to exposure to asbestos must be filed within one year after the date the injured person first suffered disability, or within one year after the date the injured person knew, or should have known, that the disability was caused by the asbestos exposure, whichever provides the longer time period.
Actions based on fraud must be filed within 3 years.
Hazardous Material Exposure:
An action based on exposure to hazardous material or toxic substance must be filed no later than 2 years from the date of the injury or 2 years after the injured person knew, or should have known, of the injury, the physical cause of the injury, and sufficient facts for the person to know that the injury was caused by the wrongful act of someone else, whichever occurs later.
These types of actions must be filed within 1 year from the date of the action.
All actions against medical professionals must be filed within 3 years of the date of the act resulting in the injury, or within one year of the date the injury was, or reasonably should have been, discovered, whichever occurs first. The medical malpractice limitations period applies to minors six years of age and older. Where the minor is under the age of six years old, the action must be filed within 3 years of the date of the act resulting in the injury, or by the minor’s 8th birthday, whichever occurs last. The limitations period for a malpractice action filed as a result of the presence of a foreign object found inside a person’s body begins to run from the date the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the foreign object.
Personal injury actions must be filed within 2 years from the date of the injury.
Product liability actions must be filed within 2 years from the date of the injury.
Generally, wrongful death actions must be filed within 2 years of the date of death. However, where the wrongful death is based upon exposure to asbestos, the action must be filed within 1 year from the date of death or from the date the plaintiff first knew, or should have known, that exposure to asbestos contributed to the death, whichever occurs later.
Special Rules Tolling the Statute of Limitations:
A statute of limitations is tolled when certain conditions are present. When a statute is tolled, the limitations period is essentially put on hold for a period of time. Some typical reasons that a statute is tolled include situations when the victim of the injury was a minor at the time of the injury (minority), when the victim of the injury was mentally incompetent at the time of the injury (mental incompetence), and when the defendant has filed bankruptcy. In California, when the injured party is a minor, the minor has 2 years from his or her 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.