Personal Injury Deadlines in California

Statute of Limitations

You have limited time to take action

General Personal injury

  • You have 2 years from the time of injury to file a lawsuit. [CCP 335.1]

Medical Malpractice:

  • You have 3 years from the date of injury, or 1 year after the plaintiff discovers the injury, whichever occurs first. [CCP 340.5]
  • The statute of limitations may be extended in cases of: fraud, intentional concealment, or presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person. [CCP 340.5]

Lawsuits Against Public Entities (Cities or Counties)

  • You must file you claim within 6 months. You then have an additional 6 months from date of the rejection letter to file a lawsuit. [Cal. Gov Code 910, 910.2, 911.2, 911.4]
  • If a claim is not presented within 6 months, a written application to present a late claim may be filed. However, the application must be presented within a reasonable time, not to exceed 1 year from date of the accrual of the cause of action, and must state the reason for delay in presenting the claim. [Cal. Gov Code 910, 910.2, 911.2, 911.4]
  • If Public Entity Does Nothing for 45 Days – The claim is deemed rejected, and the 6 month time limit to file a lawsuit starts to run on the 45th day. [Cal. Gov Code 911.6]

Time Limit To Bring Case To Trial:

  • You have five years from the time the lawsuit was filed to bring a case to trial.

Service of Complaint

The person filing a lawsuit and the person being sued must meet specific deadlines

Deadline To Notify Defendant of Lawsuit

  • You have 60 days to notify the defendant after filing a lawsuit. [Source: CRC 3.110]
  • You also have 60 days after filing a complaint to prove to the court that you notified the defendant (formally called Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint). [Source:CRC 3.110]

Deadline to Notify Defendant of Amended Complaints

  • You have 30 days after adding the complaint to your lawsuit. [Source: CRC 3.110(b)]

Deadline for Defendant To File Answer or Demurrer

  • The defendant must answer your complaint within 30 days of being served/notified.

Discovery

There are specific rules for discovering and gathering evidence.

Subpoena Deadlines

  • Subpoena for Personal Medical Records: You must submit the request at least 15 (in actuality 20) days before date of production. [CCP § 1985.3(d) incorporating CCP 2020.220(a)]
  • Subpoena for Employment Records: The request must be served on the employee 5 days before service on the custodian of records. [CCP § 1985.6(b)(2)&(3).] The request must be served on the records custodian 15 days before date of production.

Discovery Question Rules

  • The plaintiff may serve discovery questions after a minimum of 10 days have passed since the service of complaint. [CCP § 2030.020 (interrogatories)],[2031.020 (inspection demands)]
  • The defendant may serve discovery questions at any time. [CCP § 2030.020]
  • Written discovery questions must be answered within 30 days (or 35 days if questions were mailed)

Deposition Rules

  • The plaintiff may serve notice of deposition 20 days after service of complaint. [CCP 2025.210]
  • The defendant may serve notice of deposition at any time. [CCP 2025.210]
  • Depositions must be scheduled at least 10 days after notice (15 days if the notice is mailed [CCP 1013]). [CCP 2025.270].
  • Objection to a Deposition: you must “promptly” object at least 3 calendar days (+5 for mail) before the date of the deposition [CCP 2025.401(a)].
  • If seeking the “personal records” of a “consumer” who is a party to the lawsuit, no subpoena is necessary, and the party can be compelled to produce “personal records” with only 10 days notice. [CCP 2025.270] (+5 days if the notice is mailed – ccp 1013).
  • If seeking the “personal records” of a “consumer” who is NOT a party to the lawsuit, a subpoena must be issued at least 20 days before the deposition. [CCP 2025.270] (+5 days if the notice is mailed – ccp 1013)
  • For Depositions in Unlawful Detainer Actions, you must give 5 days notice. [CCP 2025.270(b)]

Motions

Noticed Motions

  • Noticed Motions must be served and filed 16 court days before the hearing date (+ 5 more calendar days if served by mail or + 2 more if served by fax, express mail, or overnight delivery). [CCP 1005] Note: CCP 1013 does not apply.
  • Opposition to Noticed Motions must be filed and served 9 court days before hearing. [CCP 1005].
  • Replies to Noticed Motions must be submitted 5 court days before hearing. [CCP 1005].

Miscellaneous Notes

    • Ex Parte Motions: The opposing party must be notified by 10:00 A.M. the day before the hearing, absent “exceptional circumstances.” [CRC 3.1203]. Note: This is a minimum. Check local rules for more strict notice periods.
    • Table of Contents/Authorities are required for motions over 10 pages. [CRC 3.1113(f)]
    • Motions for Summary Judgment: Notice must be provided 75 days before hearing (85 days if outside CA, 95 days if outside US) [CCP 437c(a)]. Opposition is 14 days before the hearing [CCP 437c(b)(2)]. Reply is 5 days before hearing. [CCP 437c(b)(3)]. Motion must be heard 30 days before trial date. Practically, this means a MSJ must be filed 105 days before trial.
      [CCP 437c(a)] Note: This 30 day time limit can be modified by the court for “good cause.” [CCP 437c(a)]

Arbitration

Arbitration Deadlines

  • The Arbitrator must issue any award within 10 days after conclusion of arbitration (or 20 days on application from the Arbitrator for more time). [CRC 3.825]
  • You can reject an Arbitration Award within 60 days of service of arbitration award. [CRC 3.826][CRC 3.825]
  • Discovery closes 15 days before arbitration. [CRC 3.822].

Trial

Trial

  • Discovery Closes (with the exclusion of expert lists, and expert depositions) 30 days before trial, or after non-binding arbitration. [CCP 2034.210; CCP § 1141.24].
  • Experts must be demanded 70 days before trial (or within 10 days of setting trial date, whichever is closer to trial date). [CCP 2034.220].
  • Experts must be disclosed 50 days before trial (or 20 days after service of demand, whichever is closer to trial date). [CCP 2034.230].
  • 998 Offers to Compromise can be made up until 10 days prior to trial. [CCP 998].
  • Notice to Appear at Trial (to party) [No documents] Must be notified 10 days before trial. Send notice with time and place to attorney. [CCP § 1987(b)].
  • Notice to Appear at Trial (to party) [With documents] Notification must be served 20 days before trial. Send notice with time and place to attorney. [CCP § 1987(c)].