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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 are 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.

Statutes of Limitations in California

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

Injury to Person

Personal injury: 2 yrs. Civ. Proc. §335.1;

False imprisonment: 1 yr. Civ. Proc. §340(c)


1 yr. Civ. Proc. §340(c)


3 yrs. Civ. Proc. §338(d)

Injury to Personal Property

3 yrs. Civ. Proc. §338(b), (c)

Professional Malpractice

Legal: 1 yr. from discovery, max. of 4 yrs. from the wrong Civ. Proc. §340.6;

Medical: 1 yr. from discovery, 3 yrs. if injury known Civ. Proc. §340.5;

Vet.: 1 yr. for injury or death of animal Civ. Prop. §340(c)


3 yrs. Civ. Proc. §338(b)

Collection of Rents

4 yrs. Civ. Proc. §337.2


Written: 4 yrs. §337;

Oral: 2 yrs. Civ. Proc. §339

Collection of Debt on Account

4 yrs. (book and stated accounts) Civ. Proc. §337


10 yrs. Civ. Proc. §337.5

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 he or she 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 his or her wrong. After enough time has passed, the chance to sue disappears.

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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