Statute of Limitations on Construction Accident Claims in California

March 3, 2021 Posted In Uncategorized

The statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit after a construction accident. If you do not file a claim before the deadline passes, you lose the right to do so. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Construction Accident Claim in CA? 

In California, the statute of limitations for construction accident claims vary based upon the cause of action. Most lawsuits have a two-year deadline from the date the injury occurred unless it is related to asbestos exposure, in which case you would only have one year. 

In some circumstances, the statute of limitations can be “tolled” or suspended. Which means the time limit won’t begin running for a specific time. The statute of limitations can only be tolled when: 

  • An injury wasn’t discovered until much later (discovery rule)
  • The defendant is out of the state
  • A minor claimant (under the age of 18)
  • Mental disability or legally insane
  • In prison

Once the condition leading to tolling has ended, then the statute of limitations begins to run or resumes. For instance, the two-year statute of limitations will start to run when an injury is discovered. Cases involving tolling are complex and require an experienced construction accident lawyer who can determine if you can still file a lawsuit. 

Statute of Repose in California

The statute of repose and statute of limitations, while similar, are distinct. California has two statutes of repose in addition to the statute of limitations, which only impact cases for construction defects against builders, designers, and others involved in construction. 

The first one applies a four-year deadline starting from the date a project is completed for cases involving an injury resulting from construction defects related to the design, planning, specifications, supervising, observation, surveying, construction of, or improvements on a property. The statute can also apply to patent defects, which are evident mistakes made by contractors who fail to inspect the property. If an injury accident occurs in the fourth year after the project’s completion, then the lawsuit must be filed within one year from the injury date. 

The second statute applies a 10-year deadline for latent defect claims after a project is completed. Latent defects are generally defined as those which are not immediately apparent in an inspection. 

Legal action must be taken within both applicable periods of time, under the statute of limitations and statute of repose. Thus, once the defect or injury is discovered, the two, four, or 10-year limitations period begins to run but does not extend past the end of the repose period.

Limits on Damages

California follows the rule of pure comparative fault, which means you can still recover compensation even if you are partially at fault for a construction accident. For instance, say you are awarded $20,000 after a defective piece of equipment explodes, and you were 60 percent at fault. You can still potentially recover 40 percent of the settlement ($8,000) from the product manufacturer or seller.

Contact Our Construction Accident Laywers for Guidance

California’s statute of limitations can add multiple levels of complexity to your construction accident claim. We can help. Contact Hanson & Mouri online today, or call (951) 688-0006 to set up your free consultation. 

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