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California Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

In every state, there are time limits for the filing of lawsuits and other civil actions called "statutes of limitations." California's civil statute of limitations laws is not too different from those of other states. Depending on the type of case or procedure, California's statutes of limitations range from one year to 10 years. The point at which the clock starts ticking typically is the date of the incident or discovery of a wrong.

Statute of limitations laws intend to create general practicability and fairness when filing lawsuits. It is never fair to hang an unfinished legal matter over someone's head indefinitely. Therefore, these laws try to create a distinct end to each legal conflict so the parties involved may move on with their lives.

Statutes of limitations ensure an offending party in any legal dispute is aware that they either committed or may be accused of committing some wrong against another party. At the same time, the wronged party must decide whether to press a lawsuit in order to recover for their wrong. After enough time has passed, the chance to sue disappears.

The following article provides a brief overview of California's civil statute of limitations.

Statutes of Limitations in California: At a Glance

Each state has its own statutes of limitations. Below is a summary of civil statutes of limitations in California.

Injury to Person


One year (Civ. Proc. § 340(c))


Three years (Civ. Proc. § 338(d))

Injury to Personal Property

Three years (Civ. Proc. § 338(b)-(c))

Professional Malpractice


Three years (Civ. Proc. § 338(b))

Collection of Rents

Four years (Civ. Proc. § 337.2)


Collection of Debt on Account

Four years (book and stated accounts) (Civ. Proc. § 337)


10 years (Civ. Proc. § 337.5)

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly passed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. You may want to contact a California personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Knowing when you have to file a lawsuit is just as important as knowing whether you have a case or not. If you'd like to learn more about this area of law, you can visit FindLaw's statute of limitations section.

Learn More About California's Civil Statute of Limitations from an Attorney

California's civil statute of limitations varies depending on the circumstances of the case. If you're dealing with a personal injury matter, it's in your best interests to contact an experienced litigation attorney who will be able to discuss the facts and legal aspects of your case with you and advise you about any applicable filing deadlines.

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