Facebook pixel
Skip to Main Content

How Long Can You Wait to Sue Someone?

hourglass that has almost run out of sand

How Long Can You Wait to Sue Someone?

Plaintiffs have the right to sue another party for their claims. This claim could vary depending on the circumstance. But there is a different time restriction on when you could bring a claim against the other party. This depends on the state you’re located in, along with the jurisdiction. The time frame depends on what injury has occurred, and where you are located. Below are some questions our clients asked us when filing a lawsuit. Our personal injury attorneys always want to make sure our clients understand the time restrictions and what is required of them when filing a lawsuit.

Oftentimes, many who would like to file a lawsuit ask themselves if it is too late, or even too early to bring this lawsuit forward against the defendant. Each lawsuit depends on the circumstances. For example, a different lawsuit has a different statute of limitation. Statute of limitation is a term used to describe the amount of time one has in order to bring a lawsuit. For example, if you bring the lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, then your lawsuit will probably be dismissed in court.

Regardless of whatever claim you are bringing and where you are located, it is important that a client understands the statute of limitations for their case and make sure it is timely filed with the court. Each lawsuit has a different statute of limitation. For more information on the statute of limitations, please contact our team today.

What are the steps that I should take when suing someone?

There are certain requirements that a plaintiff must follow in order to bring a lawsuit against another party. These steps are taken care of by an experienced personal injury attorney. That is why it’s very important to make sure that your attorney is well-versed in the legal field and understands the statute of limitations based on the location you are in. Below are mandatory steps that must be taken by the attorney in order to file a lawsuit against another party.

  1. Filing the complaint. A complaint must be filed with the county court. The court in which it is filed depends on where the accident took place. For example, you cannot file a complaint with the court in an area that has no connection to the accident that occurred. Usually, there are filing fees with the court. The complaint must state what the claim is, and who the parties are.
  2. Filing the summons. A summons form must be filled out and filed with the court. The summons states the name of the defendant and where the defendant could be found. This is meant to place the defendant on notice that there is a complaint filed against them.
  3. Serving the defendant.  The defendant must be served by a third party. The paperwork will include the complaint and the summons. Once the defendant receives the complaint and the summons, they have the ability to respond.

When should I file a lawsuit?

The lawsuit should be filed as soon as possible since the statute of limitations applies when the injury has taken place. The earliest time is when the plaintiff understands that they have a claim.

What if I filed my lawsuit late?

If you bring your case in late, there’s a possibility that the judge will dismiss the case and rule in favor of the defendant because you failed to bring a timely complaint. However, there are some instances where the judge does not necessarily have to dismiss the case. Having an experienced attorney is important when dealing with circumstances like this. When a complaint is filed, there’s the possibility that the defendant will return with an affirmative defense saying that the lawsuit has been filed late and the judge should rule for a motion to dismiss the case.

Statute of Limitations for California

Each type of claim has a different statute of limitations. Below are some common claims and the statute of limitations for each type of claim:

  • Medical Malpractice cases: a case must be brought 3 years from the date of injury or 1 year from the plaintiff’s discovery of the injury
  • Breach-of-contract cases: 2 years for oral contracts or 4 years for written contracts
  • Personal injury: 2 years
  • Class Action lawsuits: Since class actions involve multiple parties and take place throughout different periods of time, class action lawsuit statute of limitation can take 1 year to 10 years.
  • Libel or slander:1 year, this includes both written and spoken harms
  • Property damage: 3 years from the time the property damage occurs
  • Government entities: this differs depending on the type of government entity. However, it is usually between 6 months of when the injury occurs.
  • Small claims cases depend on the facts and circumstances of the case

California Rules

Even California has different rules depending on the circumstance. For example, civil California rules are completely different from criminal California rules. That is why it is very important to retain an attorney that is experienced in your state. We have attorneys in multiple cities across the state of California and Nevada and are readily accessible for any of your needs. Below is an example of the difference between criminal law and civil law in California.

  • Civil law in California limits personal injury lawsuits to 2 years. This occurs when the injury is first discovered and the plaintiff understands they have a claim. However, there are certain circumstances in a personal injury case that may increase this time limit from 2 years to 3 years.
  • Criminals can be charged with a misdemeanor up to one year after it has occurred. Criminal cases do not have a time limit when dealing with felonies such as murder. This allows the prosecutors to have more time when gathering up the evidence and charging someone for such felonies.

Contact us for a no-risk free consultation today with one of our personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys will determine what type of claim you have, along with what statute of limitations applies. It is advised that as soon as you discover you have a claim against another party, contact our office immediately. We will constantly make sure our clients are not missing out on an opportunity to file a lawsuit just because of a time limit.

We advocate aggressively for our clients and make sure our clients do not miss any deadlines. We are always available for our clients via phone or email at any time to answer their statute of limitations questions. Our California attorneys are well-versed in California statute of limitations laws and will help you determine when your statute of limitations has begun. We advise our clients to go retain a personal injury attorney rather than deal independently with their insurance company to make sure that they are compensated fairly for their injuries.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

Free Case Evaluation 24/7

Contact Us




Rear-End Accidents


Sideswipe Accidents

$1.1 Million

Head-On Accidents

$2.0 Million

T-Bone Accidents

$1.0 Million

Single-Vehicle Accidents

Case Results

$3.3 Million

Motorcycle Accident

$2.0 Million

Car accident

$1.4 Million

Brain Injury

$1.1 Million

Motor Vehicle Accident





Contact Us

24/7 Free Case Evaluation