California Personal Injury Laws

Increase Your Chances For A Successful Personal Injury Settlement

All states set limitations on the amount of time you have to file a civil court case after having sustained some kind of injury. A statute of limitations is called this kind of rule, and depending on the kind of case you are filing, there are various deadlines.

Filing Deadline for California Personal Injury Cases

In California, two years from the date of the incident, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases gives an injured party to go to court and file a complaint against someone that may be at fault. The court will refuse to review your personal injury case at any point in the future if you fail to retain legal representation and file a claim within the two-year timeframe, and your right to compensation will be lost. There are specific circumstances that could prolong the date or influence when the "clock" restriction law begins to operate.

Section 335.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure can be found in the California statute of limitations on personal injury cases.

Claims against an agency of the state government in the city, county, or California. To file an injury lawsuit against a government agency, there is a time limit of six months, and plaintiffs must comply with a specific set of procedural guidelines. (section 911.2 of the California Government Code.) Read more about allegations of damage against a government agency.

Shared Fault Laws of California

In some personal injury cases, the defendant can claim that the injured party is actually to blame for causing the underlying accident.

If you share a degree of blame, it will impact the overall amount of compensation that you will end up receiving from other entities and organizations at fault.

"California follows a" pure comparative negligence "provision in mutual fault injury cases. The amount of money you are eligible to receive will be decreased by an amount equal to the accident-fault rate.

So, for example if you're in a car accident where the other driver ran a stop sign blatantly, but at the moment, you happened to be traveling a few miles an hour over the speed limit you had put. You will share 10 percent of the responsibility for the crash, while the other driver is at fault for 90 percent.

Let's assume you add up to $ 10,000 in costs (damages). How does your mutual fault affect your compensation for the accident? Your payout will be reduced to $9,000 under the pure comparative negligence law of California (or the entire $10,000 minus the $1,000 that constitutes your share of responsibility for the accident.)

Bear in mind that, while California courts are required to obey this rule in an accident case that makes it to trial, if you are dealing with an insurance adjuster outside the legal system, it could be a different story. Don't be surprised if, during mediation negotiations, the adjuster raises the question of California's comparative negligence law. Still, you're free to discuss what the effect of that law might be on your lawsuit.

"Strict" responsibility in California for Dog Bites

In certain states, if they have no reason to suspect the dog was unsafe, dog owners are shielded (to some degree) from injury liability for the first time their dog injures others. This is also called the law of "one bite." In California, however, a particular law (California Civil Code section 3342) makes the owner "strictly liable," implying that in certain cases, when their dog bites anyone, the dog owner is legally liable, and no amount of blame or negligence has to be demonstrated.

The statute reads:

"The owner of any dog shall be responsible for the harm suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog when in a public place or legitimately in a private place, including the property of the dog's owner, irrespective of the dog's former viciousness or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness."

California Caps on Accident Damages

Here's a look at a few California personal injury laws that restrict the sums (or types) of damages that mat be able to be recovered in cases of personal injury.

No non-economic suffering for uninsured drivers and no risk to them. California law avoids the recovery of "non-economic" harm to most uninsured drivers following a car accident, even if the other driver is solely responsible for the accident.

The non-economic injury requires compensation for incidents like pain and suffering, scarring, emotional distress, and discomfort (this is usually the main category of non-economic compensation).

The main exception to this rule is that if the uninsured driver is in an accident with a driver driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That driver is convicted of DUI in connection with the accident; he or she will be able to recover non-economic damages. This legislation can be found in California Civil Code section 3333.4.

Cap on non-economic damages in incidents of medical malpractice. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which sets a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, is another key California statute that limits some kinds of damages. Section 3333.2 of the California Civil Code.

Get More Details on Personal Injury Laws in California

If you'd like more detail on California's personal injury laws, feel free to do your little legal research. You may want to begin with section 1714 of the California Civil Code, which provides the legal basis for negligence-based injury cases in that state, specifying in part that "everyone is liable not only for the effect of his or her intentional conduct but also for an injury caused to another by his or her lack of ordinary care or ability to control his or her property or person."

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