Statute of limitations is a federal or state law that requires certain legal proceedings to be brought within a certain time frame. In criminal cases, once a statute has run out, an individual may no longer initiate legal proceedings. In civil cases, a plaintiff is barred from filing a lawsuit once the statute of limitations has run out. For both civil and criminal situations, each type of claim or charge has a different time limit. For example, a potential plaintiff has 4 years from the date of the breach to file a lawsuit for a breach of contract claim, but only 2 years from the date of an accident to bring an injury claim.
For a complete list of California civil statute of limitations laws, click here…
For medical malpractice, an individual has 3 years from the date of the injury, or 1 year from the date the injured person discovered or reasonably should have known of the injury, whichever comes first. One exception in most civil statute of limitations rules is for minors. For minors, the individual has until they turn 18-years-old, PLUS the statutory period to file a lawsuit. Therefore, in our injury example from above, where the person has a 2 year limit, they have until their eighteenth birthday, plus 2 years. Therefore, they have until they reach the age of 20-years-old to file a lawsuit.
However, California imposes different rules for minors in medical malpractice claims. California medical malpractice for minors is governed by California Code of Civil Procedure §340.5. Under this rule California medical malpractice begins at the age of 6. Therefore, the statutory period would begin after they turn 6-years-old. However, for medical malpractice claims relating to minors under 6-years-old, the lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the malpractice, OR before the child’s eighth birthday, whichever one is greater. Therefore, minors who have suffered from a birth injury essentially have eight years to file a medical malpractice claim.
California also has a special birth injury statute in California Code of Civil Procedure §340.4, but it basically is read the same as CCP §340.5, and case law has found that §340.5 is appropriate.