The next step after that is determining who was injured. Different classes of people — minors versus adults, mentally infirm versus mentally competent people — have different time periods within which to act (in personal injury and medical negligence cases).
The next step is determining who caused the harm. The time period for filing a claim against a governmental agency or employee who caused harm is different than it is for a private party.
The information below provides some information on this complex issue. This is not legal advice. As the determination of what statute applies is a complex analysis, you should contact the Dolan Law Firm for a free case evaluation by calling 888-452-4752 or emailing us.
Due to the hard work of the Consumer Attorneys of California (Christopher B. Dolan serves on the board of directors), the statute of limitations for most personal injury actions not caused by medical negligence is two years from the date that you were injured if you are an adult. That time period is longer for children who, in actions other than medical negligence actions, have until one year after they turn 18 to bring a legal action. Medical negligence actions have a shorter time period to act within (see below). Parents or legal guardians may bring a lawsuit on behalf of a child younger than 18.
People who are in jail or who are mentally incapacitated by injury or insanity may, in certain circumstances, have an extension to file their lawsuit while they are in jail or mentally incompetent. If you are injured because of the fault of a California government employee or agency, you must file a claim with the proper agency within six months of the injury. For information on government claims, click here.
A case of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination or denial of medical leave, accommodation or pregnancy leave generally has a one-year statute of limitations. This may be extended in certain limited situations. This is a complex matter and you should contact the Dolan law Firm immediately for a free analysis of your case.
The law requires that before bringing a suit for a violation of the laws protecting employees from discrimination and harassment, you must file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In most cases, it is preferable to file with the DFEH as California’s laws provide greater protection for workers who have been treated in an unlawful manner. When you file a claim, you need to identify all people who treated you unfairly, what they did and the basis of your claim. You should make sure that you have been thorough and all encompassing with your claim or you can be prohibited from adding additional claims later, at trial. If your case is selected by the Dolan Law Firm, we will guide you through this process. The DFEH will investigate your claim and attempt to mediate your case or you may request an immediate right to sue letter that allows you to proceed with a lawsuit. You must obtain a right to sue letter before bringing a lawsuit or you are subject to having your case thrown out for failure to engage in the pre-lawsuit administrative process. Beware; this is a specialized field of law. Many lawyers do not understand the prefiling requirements. The Dolan Law Firm lawyers are skilled in navigating these regulations.
Medical Malpractice Cases
The statutes of limitations concerning medical negligence cases are very complex. You should contact the Dolan Law Firm immediately for a free consultation. Generally, you must bring legal action within one year from the date that you knew or through reasonable investigation should have known that injury or death was the result of medical negligence and, in no event, later than three years after the negligence/malpractice occurred. If the injury or death was the result of a medical product or drug, the statute of limitations is generally one year from the date that you knew or were put in inquiry notice (given information such that you should have looked into the matter). If you find that a doctor left an instrument or other foreign body inside you, you have one year from the date that you discovered the object. The limitations period may be extended if the doctor committed fraud or concealed the injury or negligence. If a minor is involved, the time frame is within three years of the negligence. If the negligence happens to a minor under the age of 6, then the action needs to be initiated within three years of the negligence or prior to the child’s eighth birthday, whichever provides a longer period. Prior to suing a doctor or other health care provider, you must provide a notice of intent to sue pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 364.
When the Government Is a Defendant
Many people are injured each day by government employees or on government-owned sidewalks, roadways and other property. The government is liable for the negligence of its employees and for taking steps to make sure that its property is not in a dangerous condition. If you are harmed by a state, county or local government employee or because of state, county or local government property like Muni, BART, Caltrans, Sam Trans or other public agency, you have six months from the date you were injured to file a claim with the proper authority or you may be precluded from later bringing a lawsuit, under California Government Code Section 910. This is a prefiling notice requirement that allows the governmental agency to move quickly to prevent further injury and to predict, for budgeting purposes, what its liability exposure is for the next year. You must use the claim form of the particular governmental agency when filing a claim and you must file it with the proper authority. Other counties’ and cities’ forms can often be found on their websites.
If you are injured on federal property or because of the negligence of a federal government employee, a different claims statute applies. You need to use a different claim form, depending on which federal agency is responsible for your injury.
Once you have filed a claim, the government has a period of time in which it can accept your claim, thereby agreeing that it will pay you, or reject it. Once they reject it, which is most often the case, you must file suit within a limited period of time or you lose your right to do so.
These requirements are complex. The Dolan Law Firm has handled hundreds of government liability actions and received some of the highest verdicts for clients injured by governmental employees and/or government property. Contact the Dolan Law Firm for a free case evaluation by calling 888-452-4752 or emailing us.