When Does the Statute of Limitations for Legal Malpractice Begin to Run in California?
In California, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years. In a legal malpractice claim, the statute of limitations is tolled during a period when the attorney continues to represent the plaintiff regarding the specific subject matter in which the alleged wrongful act or omission occurred. Merely failing to return a client's file does not mean the attorney is continuing representation. Please see the link to the case below, where the court defines continued representation as assisting the client in an unsettled matter related to the case. We are prohibited from giving a legal opinion, as this service provides information of a general legal nature. We suggest you consult a local attorney who can review all the facts and documents involved.
Please see the following CA statute to determine applicability:
340.6. (a) An action against an attorney for a wrongful act or
omission, other than for actual fraud, arising in the performance of
professional services shall be commenced within one year after the
plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence
should have discovered, the facts constituting the wrongful act or
omission, or four years from the date of the wrongful act or
omission, whichever occurs first. If the plaintiff is required to
establish his or her factual innocence for an underlying criminal
charge as an element of his or her claim, the action shall be
commenced within two years after the plaintiff achieves
postconviction exoneration in the form of a final judicial
disposition of the criminal case. Except for a claim for which the
plaintiff is required to establish his or her factual innocence, in
no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed four
years except that the period shall be tolled during the time that any
of the following exist:
(1) The plaintiff has not sustained actual injury.
(2) The attorney continues to represent the plaintiff regarding
the specific subject matter in which the alleged wrongful act or
(3) The attorney willfully conceals the facts constituting the
wrongful act or omission when such facts are known to the attorney,
except that this subdivision shall toll only the four-year
(4) The plaintiff is under a legal or physical disability which
restricts the plaintiff's ability to commence legal action.
(b) In an action based upon an instrument in writing, the
effective date of which depends upon some act or event of the future,
the period of limitations provided for by this section shall
commence to run upon the occurrence of that act or event.
For further discussion, please see: