Every state has laws on the books relating to personal injury claims. California is no different… and what you don’t know can hurt you. For example, wait too long to file your claim, and you’re barred from bringing your claim to court. File too soon, and you lose out on recouping your losses.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, here’s what you should know about the California personal injury laws that come into play.
California Personal Injury Laws – What You Should Know
Time is of the Essence
A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. If your lawsuit is not filed within a certain period of time, you can lose your right to have your case reviewed by a judge. The period of time varies depending on the legal claim. California statutes of limitations include:
- ANY Personal Injury: 2 Years or 1 Year from the date the injury was discovered
- Medical Malpractice: 3 Years
- Products Liability: 2 years.
- Property Damage: 3 years from the date the damage occurred
- Claims against a city, county or California state government agency. Six months
While it’s important to note these deadlines, settling too soon can result in out-of-pocket expenses that can quickly add up. An experienced accident attorney can work with medical and rehabilitation providers to carefully quantify the damages of your claim.
Who’s to Blame?
In California, if you share part of the fault for causing a car accident, you can recover compensation from any other at-fault party, regardless of the degree of your own fault. However, your percentage of fault reduces your compensation amount.
Let’s say, for example, it’s determined that 20% of the fault in your injury accident is yours (e.g. you were driving over the speed limit when you were hit). If the total available compensation is $100,000, you receive $80,000 instead of the total amount – your amount is reduced according to your degree of fault (20%).
Dog Owners Beware
California’s rules are tough when it comes to dog bites or attacks. In some states, you might get leniency for the first offense. Not so in California.
Dog owners in California are “strictly liable”, meaning the dog owner is legally responsible in most situations where the dog bites someone. The injured party, in this case, shares none of the fault. Specifically, the statute reads: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
If you’ve suffered a personal injury, you can file a claim against the responsible party to collect financial compensation to make you “whole” again after your injury. These damages can be economic (e.g. medical bills, wage loss, property damage) and non-economic (e.g. emotional distress, pain and suffering). Damage caps are laws that limit the amount of non-economic damages awarded in a case.
For example, California sets a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. However there is no limit on economic damages, including compensation for past and future medical care, loss of past earnings, and diminished future earning capacity. Also important to note, exceptions to caps exist for special circumstances like wrongful death, intentional harm, or negligence motivated by financial gain.
How an Attorney Can Help
Some accidents result in injuries that significantly affect your physical capabilities or appearance for a long time, or even permanently. Figuring out the monetary value of a serious injury is difficult, even more so if you are in pain or suffering. The Oakland attorneys at the Law Offices of Edward Casey Jr. have over 30 years of experience protecting the best interest of their clients, and holding the responsible party responsible for the pain, suffering and financial hardship they’ve caused. Contact us to discuss whether legal action is the right choice for your circumstances.