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A statute of limitations is a law which places a time limit on pursuing a legal remedy in relation to wrongful conduct. After the expiration of the statutory period, unless a legal exception applies, the injured person loses the right to file a lawsuit seeking money damages or other relief (meaning they are "time barred" from filing suit or pursuing the matter).
The following periods represent a small sample of the statutory limitations periods in California:
Professional Malpractice: Legal malpractice, 1 year from date of discovery, to a maximum of four years from the date of the wrongful act. Medical malpractice, 3 years from the date of the injury, or one year from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first. If the medical malpractice action is based upon the presence of a foreign object found inside the plaintiff's body, the statute of limitations does not start to run until the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the object. The periods of limitation for medical malpractice apply to minors six years of age and older.
Personal Injury: 2 years.
Fraud: 3 years.
Libel / Slander / Defamation: 1 year.
Injury to Personal Property: 3 years.
Product Liability: 2 years.
Contracts: Written, 4 years; Oral, 2 years.
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