Domestic violence civil lawsuit under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 340.15, must be filed within 3 years of the most recent incident of domestic violence. 3 years is more generous than the time one has to file an ordinary personal injury case such as a case arising out of a car accident. In terms of the best time to file a civil lawsuit in a domestic violence case, it is my general preference to wait until the criminal proceeding is over.
Once you have a domestic violence case that is filed properly under CCP Section 340.15, you can also include in your lawsuit evidence of prior similar domestic violence incidents even if they are more than 3 years old.
340.15. (a) In any civil action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of domestic violence, the time for commencement of the action shall be the later of the following:
(1) Within three years from the date of the last act of domestic violence by the defendant against the plaintiff.
(2) Within three years from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness resulted from an act of domestic violence by the defendant against the plaintiff.
(b) As used in this section, domestic violence has the same meaning as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code.
(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 123, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1999.)
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