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California Statute of Limitations


Preliminary Note: Statutes of limitations restrict the time period that a person can file a lawsuit. These statutes not only vary by state, but they also vary by cause of action. The following guide provides limitations periods for each state, but only for particular causes of action; specifically, those related to personal injury, medical malpractice, and products liability claims. The sections discussing special rules for minors only apply to the causes of action listed for that particular state.

Wrongful Death

In most cases, a wrongful death action must be filed within two years of the date of death. In cases where the wrongful death action is based upon exposure to asbestos, however, the action must be filed within one year from the date of death or within one year from the date the plaintiff first knew, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known that exposure to asbestos caused or contributed to the death, whichever date is later.

Personal Injury Actions

California requires an injured person to file a claim for personal injuries within two years of the date of the injury. This time limitation includes claims for personal injury caused by defective products.

Medical Malpractice Actions

Actions against health care providers must be filed within three years after the date of the injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. The only exception is for medical malpractice claims based on the presence of a foreign object found inside the injured person’s body. In that case, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the person discovers, or should have discovered, the object. These time limitations also apply to minors six years of age and older. In the case of a minor under six, the action must be filed within three years of the date of the injury or before the minor’s eighth birthday, whichever time period is greater.

Special Rules for Minors

Except in cases of medical malpractice or wrongful death, a minor has two years from the date of his or her 18th birthday to file a tort claim. Actions for injuries to the minor during or before birth must be brought within six years of the injury.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

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