Photo of Gay GrunfeldA November 16, 2009 article in the Recorder by RBG’s Gay Grunfeld and Amy Whelan entitled “No Time to Waste” examines the operation of the California statute governing personal injury claims against public entities.  

Although personal injury claimants generally have two years to file a lawsuit for money or damages against a private tortfeasor, the California Government Claims Act significantly shortens this period for those harmed by state or local entities. The Act requires claimants to file claims with the state or public entity before going to court and to do so usually within six months, depending on the nature of the claim.

This article explores state and local claims procedures in California, will outline the pitfalls for litigants, and proposes basic reforms needed to foster the original goals of the law.