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Statute of Limitations - California State Law Government Claims

This article pertains solely to California state law claims against government (public entities) and/or their employees, not claims based on federal law.

Administrative Claim required: To sue a government agency or office, you must first file an "administrative claim" with the government office or agency before you file a court lawsuit.

Form and Content: You must use the particular government office’s or agency’s claim form, if they have a specific form, to file the claim [Government Code Section 910.4].   

Some argue or opine that any format can be used so long as the claim is made in substantial conformity with Sections 910 and 910.2.   But to be safe and avoid unnecessary confusion and dispute, use the specific form provided by the particular government office or agency.

But if there is not a specific form provided, then your written claim must conform to the requirements set forth in Government Code Sections 910(a)-(f) and 910.2.

Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Personal Property Damage Government Claims / Cases: You must file your administrative claim within 6 months of the date of accrual of the cause of action.

California Government Code Section 911.2(a) states:

“A claim relating to a cause of action for death or for injury to person or to personal property or growing crops shall be presented…not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of action…”

How long is six months?   Probably six calendar months or 182 days, whichever is longer.  See Government Code Sections 6803-6804 and cases that interpreted Section 6803-6804 such as Gonzales v. County of Los Angeles (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 601, 605-606.  But since the time computation method of Govt. Code Section 911.2 might not yet have been been specifically interpreted by case law, to be safe, one should calculate the shorter time period of the two dates.

What is the date of presentation (i.e. the filing date)? If you deliver the claim in person, the presentation/filing date is the delivery date. If you mail the claim, the presentation/filing date is the date of mailing (and not the date of receipt).  If the claim is mailed, it is usually recommended that it be mailed via certified mail with return receipt requested.

Breach of Contract, Real Property Damage, and Other Claims / Cases: You must file your administrative claim within 1 year of the date of accrual of the cause of action.

California Government Code Section 911.2(a) relates:

“…A claim relating to any other cause of action shall be presented …not later than one year after the accrual of the cause of action”.

(There are a certain exceptions to the above rules. See California Government Code Section 905).

Deadline to file Court lawsuit:

After you file your administrative claim, the government agency or office has 45 days to respond to the claim. CA Government Code Section 912.4.

If the government agency or office denies your administrative claim during the 45 days, you have 6 months to file a court lawsuit from date the denial (rejection letter) was mailed or personally delivered to you. Government Code Sections 912.4 and 912.6.

But if the government agency or office does not respond to your administrative claim during the 45 days, you have 2 years from the accrual of the cause of action to file a court lawsuit. Government Code Section 945.6 (a)(2).

Late filed Claims:

Late filed Claim without asking permission: If a government claim is filed later than the time permitted by statute, without a request for permission file same late, the public entity must (within 45 days of the presentation of the claim) send a notice to the claimant indicating that the claim is late. But if no such late notice is given by the public entity, the untimely defense is waived and not valid. Government Code Sections 911.3(a)-(b).

Permission to file late claim: A Claimant may apply in writing to the public entity for permission to file a late claim within a “reasonable time” but no later than one year after accrual of the cause of action.  Government Code Section 911.4.

A public entity must allow (grant) a timely application for permission (leave) to file a late claim if:

1. There is a showing of mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect, and the public entity was not prejudiced in its defense of the claim by the delay;  

2. Claimant was a minor during the time for filing;

3. Claimant was physically or mentally incapacitated during the claims-filing period and as a result could not present a timely claim; or

4. Claimant died during the claims-filing period.

Government Code Section 911.6

If the public entity denies the application to file a late claim (or does not respond within 45 days in which case it is deemed denied), the claimant may petition the court for relief within six months after the application was denied. [Government Code 946.6(b)].

The section 945.6 six-month period has been interpreted to allow claimant six calendar months or 182 days, whichever is longer, within which to sue. [Gonzales v. County of Los Angeles (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 601, 605-606]. If the public entity does not give notice or gives improper notice, the time is extended to two years from the accrual of the cause of action. [Government Code Section 945.6 (a)(1)]

If the court then grants the petition for relief, claimant must file suit on the claim within 30 days after the order granting the petition. [Government Code Section 945.6 (f)].

GOVERNMENT CODE SECTIONS

Government Code Sections 910 - 913.2

Government Code Sections 6800 - 6807

Government Code Section 945 - 949

List of Statute of Limitations specific articles on this website:

California_Statute_of_Limitations

Exceptions_to_Statute_of_Limitations_Tolling

Accrual Statute of Limitations

Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Defamation Statute of Limitations

Fraud Statute of Limitation

Government Claim Statute of Limitations


CAVEATS / WARNINGS:

SOL laws are complicated: Statutes of limitations, and the court rules and cases that interpret and apply them, are complicated.  Even if you believe that the statute of limitation deadline might have passed or might be extended by an exception, do not rely on this article, but immediately seek consultation and legal advice from a lawyer.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is informational, only. The subject matter and applicable law is evolving and/or constant state of change.  No legal advice is given and no attorney/client or other relationship is established or intended.  The information provided is from general sources, and I cannot represent, guarantee or warrant that the information contained in this website is accurate, current, or is appropriate for the usage of any reader. It is urged, advised, and recommended that readers of this information consult with their own legal counsel before relying on any information on this website or this article.

Copyright 2014
By MB Tozer Esq.