Every state has unique statutes of limitations, or deadlines for filing, different injury claims. The goal of a statute of limitations is to encourage you, the claimant, to come forward with a claim as soon as possible.

It is critical to obey your statute of limitations during a medical malpractice lawsuit in California. If you miss the deadline to file, the courts are likely to reject your case—taking away any potential opportunity to obtain compensation.

What are statutes of limitations?

A statute of limitations is a deadline that exists for both civil and criminal cases in California. A state may bar you from filing a claim after a certain length of time has passed to encourage timely filing. Without a statute of limitations, you could feasibly wait to bring a lawsuit until the destruction or loss of important evidence the defendant could have used. Statutes of limitations keep the legal system just for both parties.

Statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in California

California Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5 imposes a one-year deadline on most medical malpractice claims. The law gives you one year from the date you discover your injuries, or from the date a person could have reasonably discovered the injuries, to bring a lawsuit. The statute of repose is three years from the date your injury occurred. If you do not discover your injuries until after three years have passed since the malpractice, you could lose your right to recover any damages.

Exceptions to the general rule

Most statutes of limitations come with certain exceptions. These exceptions could shorten or lengthen the time you have to file a claim. For example, you could have more time to file if the injured party is a minor, such as your child. You could have less time to file, on the other hand, if you are bringing a claim against the government.