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How long does a plaintiff have to serve the dependent after filing a lawsuit

Pollock Pines, CA |

auto accident 2 yrs ago. lawsuit filed just before the statue of limitations was up. I was at fault. aside from having their car fixed no other contact with the insurance co. only reason lawsuit is known was the insurance contacted the county.

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Attorney answers 4


A reasonable amount of time. Yes it sounds confusing but after you file a lawsuit, the court will set a Case Management Conference approximately 90 days later. If you don't serve the defendant, they will continue the CMC every 60 days or so until you do. However, if you don't serve them within a year or so a judge can set an OSC (Order to Show Cause) as to why the case should not be dismissed because you have not exercised due diligence to complete service. Remember, you can always serve someone via publication in a newspaper, but you have to get permission from the court first.


Under the California Rules of Court, the plaintiff generally must serve the summons and complaint within 60 days after filing the lawsuit. See Government Code section 68603(c) under the Trial Court Delay Reduction Act of 1990, and California Rules of Court, Rule 3.713 and 3.714 which sets forth the goals.

Under the Code of Civil Procedure, the court has the discretion to dismiss the case after two years. The trial court has broad discretion to dismiss an action for delay in prosecution if service has not been made within two years after the action is commenced against a defendant. (Code of Civil Procedure section 583.420(a)(1); Howard v. Thrifty Drug & Discount Stores (1995) 10 Cal.4th 424, 443. )

California also has a five year mandatory dismissal statute. Specifically, California Code of Civil Procedure section 583.310 provides: " An action shall be brought to trial within five years after the action is commenced against the defendant."

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


It looks like the current rules for the county of El Dorado state: 7.12.06 SERVICE OF COMPLAINT & CASE MANAGEMENT DOCUMENTS A. SERVICE OF COMPLAINT. Within 60 days after filing a complaint, the plaintiff shall serve the summons and complaint and case management documents on all defendants and file a proof
of service with the court. Within 30 days after amending a complaint to add a defendant, the
plaintiff shall serve the added defendant and file a proof of service with the court.

However there are other rules regarding service. You should call your insurance carrier to make sure that you know the name of your adjuster, let him/her know your address and phone number and if you do get served, call them right away.


I agree with attorney Chen. All of us know we have 60 days to serve the defendant. Usually, I try to use the first 30 days to see if a deal can be done, but if do not see a serious offer I serve it and start the discovery process. Best of luck.

This answer is provided by California Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., 510-206-4492. Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492. Abogado de Lesiones de Accidentes de Autos, provides answers of a general context. These answers are not intended to form an attorney client relationship. Oakland Abogado Accidentes Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Accidentes de carros, Abogado de accidentes de Peatones, practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, is licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.

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