Cheat-Sheet for the Over-Worked Solo

Cheat-Sheet for the Over-Worked Solo

Civil Law Time Limits

A Cheat Sheet for California Lawyers, by California Lawyers

Hello Counsellor: Here is a handy guide for quickly reminding yourself about those pesky deadlines that are forever haunting the solo practitioner.  BUT, please be advised that this is NOT a substitute for homework, AND YOU MAY NOT RELY on these dates as the “last word” on civil procedure deadlines. Dates change, or may vary from local rule to local rule, so please make sure to make sure.



  • Serve Defendant after Complaint filed – 60 days after filing. [Source:  CRC 3.110]
  • Serve Defendant Added via Amended Complaint – 30 days after adding.  [Source:  CRC 3.110(b)]
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint (proving to Court that you served Defendant) – 60 days after serving complaint.  [Source:  CCP § 538.210]
  • • Defendant Time Limit to File Answer or Demurrer – 30 days from date complaint was served.  [Source:  CCP § 412.20]



  • Plaintiff may serve discovery questions – 10 days after service of complaint.   [CCP §2030.020]
  • Subpoena for Personal (medical) records – Must be served on consumer at least 15 days (in actuality 20) days before date of production.  [CCP § 1985.3(d) incorporating CCP 2020.220(a)].  The subpoena may not be served on records custodian until at least five days after service on consumer.  [CCP § 1985.6(b)(2) & (3).] Must be served on records custodian 15 days before date of production.
  • Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum – must be served on defense counsel at least five days before date for production of documents.  [CCP § 1985.3(g).  1985.6(f)(2)]  Note:  Court may still grant a motion to quash after this time.  [Slage v. Sup.Ct. (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d 1309, 1313]
  • Motion to Compel Additional Answers – 45 days.  [CCP §2030.300]
  • Respond to Written Discovery – 30 days (+5 days if questions were mailed).
  • Discovery Closes Before Arbitration – 15 days before arbitration.

[CRC 3.822]

  • Discovery Closes Before Trial:  30 days before trial – or 15 days before arbitration.  [CCP § 2024.020]
  • Last Day to Hear Discovery Motions – 15 days before trial.

[CCP § 2024.020]

  • Practical Last Day to Serve Discovery (and be able to make a motion on it) – 90 – 100 days before trial.
  • Deposition Notice – Defendant may serve any time.  Plaintiff must wait 20 days after service of summons and complaint to serve.  [CCP § 2025.210]
  • Depositions – Must be set at least 10 days in the future (+5 days if the notice is mailed – CCP § 1013), at least 20 (+5 days if notice is mailed – CCP § 1013) if deposition notice includes a request for documents.  [CCP § 2025.270]




  • Experts Must Be Demanded  – 70 days before trial (or within 10 days of setting trial date, whichever is closer to trial date) [CCP § 2034.220]
  • Experts Must Be Disclosed – 50 days before trial (or 20 days after service of demand, whichever is closer to trial date).  [CCP § 2034.230]
  • Supplemental Expert Disclosure – Must be disclosed within 20 days of the Exchange of Expert Witnesses.  May only disclose witness to cover a subject covered by opponent’s witnesses.  [CCP § 2034.280]
  • Expert Depositions – May be set “on receipt of an expert witness list from a party.”  [CCP § 2034.
  • 410]
  • Expert Discovery Cut Off – 15 days before original trial date.  [CCP § 2024.030]
  • Last Day for Motions Regarding Experts – 10 days before original trial date.

[CCP § 2024.030]



  • Discovery Closes (with the exclusion of expert lists, and expert depositions) – 30 days before trial, or after non-binding arbitration.  [CCP § 2034.210;

CCP § 1141.24]

  • Experts Must Be Demanded – 70 days before trial (or within 10 days of setting trial date, whichever is closer to trial date).  [CCP § 2034.220]
  • Experts Must Be Disclosed – 50 days before trial (or 20 days after service of demand, whichever is closer to trial date).  [CCP § 2034.230]
  • 998 Offers to Compromise – Can be made up until 10 days prior to trial. [CCP § 998]
  • Notice to Appear at Trial (to party) [With Documents] – 20 days before trial, send notice with time and place to attorney.  [CCP § 19871987(c)]
  • Notice to Appear at Trial With Documents – 5 days “or any other time period as the court may allow.”  [CCP § 1987(c)]




  • Noticed motion – must be served and filed 16 court days before the hearing date (+5 more if served by mail) (+2 more if served by fax, express mail, or overnight delivery).  [CCP § 1005]
  • Opposition to Noticed Motion – must be filed and served 9 court days before hearing.  [CCP § 1005]
  • Reply to Noticed Motion – 5 court days before hearing.  [CCP § 1005]
  • Ex Parte Motion – Opposing party must be notified by 10:00 a.m. the day before the hearing, absent “exceptional circumstances.”  [CRC 3.1203].  Note:  This is a minimum.  Check local rules for more strict notice periods.

Manner of Service:  “Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, all papers opposing a motion and all reply papers shall be served by personal delivery, facsimile transmission, express mail, or other means consistent with Sections 1010, 1011, 1012, and 1013, and reasonably calculated to ensure delivery to the other party or parties not later than the close of the next business day after the time the opposing papers or reply papers, as applicable, are filed.”  CCP § 1005(c)]

CCP § 1013:  “… The service is complete at the time of the deposit, but any period of notice and any right or duty to do any act or make any response within any period or on a date certain after the service of the document, which time period or date is prescribed by statute or rule of court, shall be extended five calendar days, upon service by mail, if the place of address and the place of mailing is within the State of California, 10 calendar days if either the place of mailing or place of address is outside the State of California but within the United States, and 20 calendar days if either the place of mailing or the place of address is outside the United States.”

  • Motions for Summary Judgment – Notice is 75 days before hearing (+10 if outside of California, +20 if outside the United States)  [CCP § 427c(a)]  Opposition is 14 days before hearing [CCP § 437c(b)(2)]  Reply is 5 days before hearing.  [CCP § 437c(b)(3)]


Breach of Contract (Written)  – 4 years [CCP § 337]

Breach of Contract (Oral)  –2 years [CCP § 339]

Fraud –3 years [CCP § 338(d)]

The statute does not “accrue,” or start running, until “the discovery, by the                     aggrieved party, of the facts constituting the fraud.” When “discovery” occurs is generally question of fact. When “the plaintiff suspects or should suspect that her injury was caused by wrongdoing,” the statute starts to accrue. Parsons v. Tickner, 31 Cal. App. 4th 1513 (1995).

Personal Injury – 2 years [CCP § 335.11]

  • Medical Malpractice – 3 years from the date of injury, or 1 year after the plaintiff discovers the injury, whichever occurs first.  [CCP § 340.5]  Note:  You must give 90 days notice of intent to sue.  [CCP § 364]  Note:  Statute may be tolled by (1) upon proof of fraud, (2) intentional concealment, or (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person.  [CCP § 340.5]
  • Lawsuits Against Public Entities (like cities or counties) – Must file a claim within 6 months.  Then you have 6 months from the date of the rejection letter to file a lawsuit.

Once again, please be advised that this page is not legal advice, nor is it intended as such, and there is no guarantee that this information is up to date.  If you need legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

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