Year: 2018

Statute of Limitations for Filing Lawsuits in California Courts

Statutes impose limitations illustration
Pictured above is the word “limitations” and a picture of a smiling attorney. She is thinking while standing in front of a futuristic black and blue background.

Determining Your Rights in Court

There is a statute of limitations for most lawsuits; this is the deadline, for filing your case with the court. In cases where the statute of limitations has run out, the legal claim will not be valid in most cases. The amount of time you have before a court can no longer accept that lawsuit will depend on situations.

Statute or contract law governs the period. There is a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in California. But that doesn’t mean we wait.

In fact, in cases including suing the government or cruise ship company you must file a claim right away. This tenuous deadline is why you must speak to a lawyer as soon as possible!

Most common statutes of limitations:

  • Personal Injury: Personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years from the time of the injury. In cases where the harm was not discovered immediately, then there is a one-year period from the date of discovery.
  • Property Damage: There is a three-year time limit to file a lawsuit for property damage, from accident date.
  • Breach of a Written Contract. In cases where there has been a breach of a written contract there is a four-year limitation from when the breach of the deal.
  • Breach of Oral Contract. When there is a breach of an oral contract, there is a three-year limit to file, from when the breach of contract.
  • Government Agency Claims. The claim filed against the government agency has a limit of six months from the date of the incident. However, in some cases, the deadline can be one year from the time of the event. If the court denies, then a lawsuit can be filed in court. The ordinary statutes apply for the time limitation.

Some crimes do not have a statute of limitations, like murder that has no statute of limitations. If you believe that you have a claim, it can be difficult to determine the statute of limitation. If you are unsure about the time you have to file a lawsuit, consult an attorney.

The court self-help resources might be helpful. However, it is vital to remember if the statute of limitation expires, the court will not accept your lawsuit.

Why Are Claims Against Government Agencies More Difficult?

There are several exceptions to the previously stated time constraint. For example, what if the defendant was a federal agency or a government employee? In that case, these parties have sovereign immunity, there is a specific way filing a claim against them. 

When you have a claim against a government agency, it starts with a unique claim., an “administrative claim.” This claim filed with the government office or agency before applying to the court. When submitting this administrative claim, it is necessary using the agency’s form.

  • Personal Injury Claims. Personal injury claims include injuries and property damage. The statute of limitation is six months for these claims from the date of the loss or property damage. For this type of government claim, you should review California Government Code section 905 and section 911.2. Consulting a personal injury attorney will ensure that the complaint is filed correctly and within the given amount of time.
  • Real Property Damage and Breach of Contract. Both of these types of government claims have a one-year statute of limitation from the date the property damage occurred, or the contract broke. Once your claim gets filed with the government, they have 45 days to respond, to your application. During these 45 days, if your request is denied, then you have six months to file a lawsuit from the date the denial was mailed, or hand delivered.

Government claim statutes of limitations can be confusing, and if there are any doubts, it is crucial to consult an experienced lawyer. They will be able to discuss the statute of the limitation period and can help protect your rights if your government claim is denied.

When is the Statute of Limitations Suspended?

There are some occasions when the statute of limitations becomes suspended for a period and then will restart. This suspension is “tolling the statute of limitations,” and happens in circumstances where the defendant is a minor, is in prison, is out of the state, or is insane.

The tolling ends when the minor reaches the age of 18, out of prison, returned to the state of California or is no longer insane the period of limitation will resume.

Another exception that may apply is in cases of wrongful death. Special circumstances such as negligent killings can extend the time to sue. For example, if the plaintiff is in a coma, the family could sue for them, etc.  However, if the plaintiff dies, the bodily injury suit drops. The family can file a new claim for wrongful death.

When tolling is involved in the claim against a government office or agency. It can be extremely complicated, and it is highly advisable to consult a lawyer.

Common Statutes of Limitations

The standard periods in which a lawsuit must get filed or a claim are located in the California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 312-366. This often determines the amount of time to file your claim.

It remains important to be sure that the laws you read apply specifically to your type of case. If it does not, or you are not satisfied with the statute of limitation for your claim,  consult an attorney. Ensure you understand the time limit you have for your specific type of case.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Various Types of Claims?

  • Personal Injury. This is a claim that occurs when the defendant injures you, with or without intention of causation. Personal injury accidents, assault, battery, wrongful death, whether intentional, an illegal act, negligent acts or due to negligently inflicting emotional distress. Such statutes in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1. The period in which a claim can be filed is two years from the date the injury occurred.
  • Property Damage. When a defendant damages or destroys your property, whether it was intentional or accidental. This destruction can be personal property, such as a vehicle collision, fraud, creating a nuisance or trespassing without permission. This statute of limitations is in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 338. The breach of sale goods section is located in California Commercial Code section 2725. The statute of limitations time is two years from the date of property damage.

Further Examples Include:

  • Claims against a Health-Care Provider. This is known as Medical Malpractice. There is a one year limit from the date the plaintiff knows about the injury or three years from when they should have known about the injury. This discovery date will go by whichever date is earlier. This section outlined in California Code of Civil Procedures section 340.5. Also, described in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 364, is a statute that when filing a claim against a health-care provider, they must be given 90 days notice before the claim can be filed. The statute of limitations is one year to file a complaint; however, in some cases, it can be up to three years.
  • Breach of Written Contracts: The breach of written contracts is outlined in California Code of Civil Procedures section 337 and has a four-year time limit from the date that the deal was broken.
  • Breach of Oral Contracts: Oral contracts are ones that are not written and is an agreement not adhered between the plaintiff and defendant. In many cases, there is some written proof, whether it is a receipt, a canceled check, or another paper document that could be evidence of an oral contract. California Code of Civil Procedures section 339.  There is a two year period in which to file a claim, from the date that the contract became broken.

Prominent Examples:

  • Libel and Slander: Libel is when a defendant vilifies you in writing, print or photographs and slander is when they verbally insult you or your character. This rule is covered under the California Code of Civil Procedures section 340c and has one year from the date of the injury.
  • Unknown Problems, “Latent Defects”: Latent defects occur with real property design improvement, construction that caused damage to real estate or personal property, and survey of the real property. This type of legal claim filing often against an architect, builder, or contractor. The latent defects rules list in the California Code of Civil Procedures, section 337.15. There is a ten-year statute of limitations from the date of the mostly finished construction.
  • Claims Against Banks: A complaint against a bank when a check was paid, which was signed without authorization or when the signature was forged is outlined in California Code of Civil Procedure, section 340 and has one year from the date that the bank paid the funds.

What About Your Claims Against Government Agencies or Offices? 

The complaint filed against a public body or office is known as an extraordinary claim or “Administrative Claim.” This administrative claim must be filed before applying to the court, and it is required to use the government’s form filing this special claim. The statute of limitations is six months from the date of the injury filing the administrative complaint.

  • (1) Personal Property, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death. Filing these types of claims against a government agency or office, will mean filing an administrative claim within six months from the date of the injury or death. This rule remains outlined in Government Code, Section 911.2.
  • (2) Real Property Damages and Breach of Contract. When real property injury or breach of contract has occurred, and the defendant is a government agency or office there is one year time period from the date of the damage to file an administrative claim. This rule can be in Government Code, Section 911.2, under “any other cause of action.”

After you file an administrative claim, the government agency or office has 45 days in which to respond, as outlined in Government Code, Section 912.4

In cases where the government agency:

  • Does Not Respond. If the government agency or office does not answer the claim during the 45-days they have under the code, you will have six months from that time to file a lawsuit in court. In the case of an administrative claim, ignored but denied, the six months to file a lawsuit in court will be from the date that you received the denial in the mail or when it was hand delivered. These rules are in Government Code, Section 912.4, and 912.6.

When filing a legal claim, whether it is to the court or a government agency or office, consulting with an attorney can help to prevent errors in the computation of statute limitations. Or in the period that the defendant has to file their legal claim from the date of the injury.


Bringing U.S. Postal Office Personal Injury Claims

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To start with, our practice deals with personal injuries like slips and falls and car accidents. So we don’t do federal cases such as U.S. Post Offices lawsuits as a general rule and we do not handle federal emplyment law or mail disputes. Also, we do not sue the U.S. Post Office except in very rare cases such as when a postal truck runs someone over or causes a car crash, for example.

This information is for informational purposes so you can learn your rights as against the Post Office. Anyone harmed by a federal government entity and wants to can sue. Though, most have no idea of all the hoops they must jump through. This process is to be able to have the legal right to sue.

But yes it is true, any person has the right to bring a personal injury claim involving negligence. This claim can get accomplished under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“F.T.C.A.”).

Sovereign immunity is available for many official acts. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution mandates the right of redress for grievances. Though, this lies with the sovereign people on whose behalf postal workers serve.

Typical Claims Against The Post Office Under the FTCA

If the FTCA involves the U.S. Post Office, it can be a traffic collision with a mail truck. But, it could be a slip and fall accident on the Federal enclave itself. To begin with, the process, in this case, is a lot different from the standard personal injury claims process. They must follow the federal guidelines. These procedures and substantive rules found outlined in the FTCA.

  • Why is a Unanimous Jury Required?

These suits will get filed in a federal court. Though, some civil rights cases can get lodged in California state court. Here state court doesn’t require a unanimous jury. Contrast this with the federal court, in this case; a unanimous panel will become necessary. The full vote of the jury is needed to win a favorable verdict in the case.

The FTCA IS Wrought With Pitfalls and Requires an Excellent Attorney if You’re Intent Upon Suing the U.S. Postal Service

This Act is highly complex. Also, it may become confusing to a lawyer in this case. Let alone a person without any legal training at all. The personal injury lawyer must know the rules, too. They must understand the guidelines of the FTCA. Most, these will include different filing procedures for claims against govt entities.

Right away, one will see the differences. Cases between the non-government and government-related requests have far different’ requirements. The Federal Tort Claims Act overrides old laws that prevented suing the federal government. So though they had the sovereign immunity discussed above. Certain bad conduct is subject to a claim.

“Letter To Sue”

In any event, to file a lawsuit against the party, a letter gets filed. In this case for a person to bring a claim procedure’s followed. An example in fact against the government filing is different. They need the government’s approval to bring the allegation. This process cannot start until the plaintiff receives a claims denial letter. Also, this is known as a “letter to sue.”

The enacting of the FTCA changed the rules, though. It turned some types of suits filed against federal employees and agencies. But most of the cases get limited to examples with negligent actions.
Also, this permits the person suffering harm, and property loss to get paid.  So this is the family who lost a loved one to obtain a financial award. This award is claimed under the laws of the FTCA.

These guidelines stipulate the harm must be through negligence. So this includes omission or a wrongful act by a government employee.

  • An Example of the Complexity of the “Act.”

In this Act, is fine print here, and complex regulations, too. Also, this must follow for it to be a successful claim. So this isn’t as broad sweeping policy. Federal tort law makes it possible to file a lawsuit against post office employees.

If the employee works as an independent contractor, you could still sue. Last, it will depend on the circumstances if the Act applies to this entity. Since it is possible a different injury law will apply. Under the FTCA laws, the negligent or wrongful actions must take place at or during work.

At the time the federal government employee must be performing their duties. This means they’re engaged in their regular course and scope as a postal employee.

Sovereign Immunity and Limitations Placed On These Types of Claims

There’s a limitation on misconduct that is intentional. Though, all negligence claims fall under FTCA laws. In fact, restrictions placed on claims against the federal government. Limits the agencies pay out for recovery of financial settlement.

None the less, millions of dollars get paid out every year on claims. In this case, it is claims filed against federal agencies. If you believe you have a valid claim a consult is essential. A complaint against a federal government agency can gain compensation.

Proving an FTCA Claim against the USPO

If a person has a suit against the US Post Office, there are in fact rules. Too, these rules include filing the claim. The claim’s filing must happen within the statute of limitations. This period is often within two years in a typical state court case. But this is with a regular, non-govt entity as a defendant. Also, many of these govt claims can get limited to 6 months.

So this makes these cases scary and confusing. Knowing the right steps to take in protecting the right of action is difficult. Consulting a personal injury lawyer means they can assist you. They can help in the validity of the potential claim. The lawyer can ensure the time limit, in this case, is met. This time begins from the date of the incident.

  • Pleading Your Claims Under the FTCA

Going into a lawsuit of this type is for financial reward and compensation. It will be necessary to allege and seek a specific monetary amount. But you need to have all the relevant facts. Also, to produce the vital paperwork available. This paperwork is due in part to mandatory discovery rules compliance.

First, the claim, in this case, gets filed the agency. The agency will have six months to respond to the application. The other choice here is to admit the validity of the request. But claims get denied as a matter of course.

If the agency denies the claim, it’s essential to have legal counsel. Though, you will have someone to assist with the request and take the lawsuit to court. Though, the lawyer providing skilled guidance can help explain things.

There are a variety of administrative remedies to understand. Legal help is essential in filing an injury claim using the FTCA. Same goes in fact for suing the U.S. Postal Service. We wish you luck in finding a lawyer who takes on these types of cases.

Citation 13-1952: A.A. and U.S. POSTAL SERVICE, POST

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