If you are a potential police shooting victim, it is important to understand the timeline of filing a lawsuit in California. Depending on whether you choose to pursue state law or federal civil rights causes of action or both, there are different timelines for filing your claim.
For state law claims against an officer(s), government tort claims must be filed within 6 months from the date of the incident. On the other hand, if pursuing federal civil rights causes under the 4th Amendment and 42 USC 1983 then a lawsuit must be filed within 2 years from when it happened. We typically file both state and federal causes of action in federal district court.
After filing the state and federal causes of action in federal court, the defendants need to be served with a copy of the complaint. After service, defendants typically answer the lawsuit. Once all parties have answered the complaint, the Court sets the schedule for discovery and trial. The trial is routinely set approximately 1 year away. In the meantime, discovery begins with exchanging documents and interrogatories and then depositions of parties, key witnesses, and experts.
It is important that victims act quickly as these timelines can pass quickly without them being aware until it's too late! If you believe that you have a claim for a police shooting in California, please contact our experienced attorneys who can help guide you through every step along this legal process.
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Scott D. Hughes is a police shooting lawyer practicing in State and Federal Court.