California Laws that can Affect Your Personal Injury Case
California Laws that can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

If you have suffered a personal injury in California, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. If someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, that party can be found liable for your damages. However, there are several laws in place in California that can affect your personal injury case. It is important to become familiar with these rules to better understand the personal injury claim process and have a successful case.

Here are some California state laws to keep in mind when filing a personal injury claim:

  1. California is a comparative fault state. That means that you can seek compensation from the at-fault party, regardless of whether you are partly to blame for the accident. However, remember that this will affect the amount of compensation you can claim. Your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault in the accident. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and hits you, he is likely going to be found liable for the accident. But if the responding police officer reports that you were speeding at the time of the crash, you might be found partly liable for the accident. If your total damages were $10,000 and you were found to be 20% liable for the crash, your compensation would be reduced to $8,000. This rule applies to cases that go to court and can also be applied by the insurance company when they are determining their settlement offer.
  2. There are limits on damages in some situations. In general, a personal injury victim can seek any amount for damages in order to cover the costs associated with their injuries. This includes economic damages—compensation for medical bills, prescriptions, physical therapy, mental health treatment, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, etc.—and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment. Here are some exceptions: 
    • Uninsured drivers cannot receive compensation for non-economic damages after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. The only time an uninsured driver can receive non-economic damages is if the at-fault driver was convicted of DUI in connection with the accident.
    • In medical malpractice lawsuits, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000. The cap was established by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act in 1975, and has never been adjusted for inflation. 
  3. There is a time limit you must adhere to. Like most states, California imposes a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. If you do not take legal action by the allotted time, you forfeit your right to file a lawsuit. In the case of a car accident, the victim has two years from the time of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, and three years to file a property damage lawsuit for the damage done to your vehicle or other property. However, if you did not discover the injury right away, you might be able to get an exception to the two-year limitation. This would be considered “delayed discovery” of the injury. You would have to have sufficient medical records to prove the injury was not discovered until later, and you would still have to prove that the at-fault party’s negligence directly caused the injury. Moreover, you need to file a claim within one year of discovering the injury. If you have a personal injury claim against a city, county or state government agency in California, you have between six months and one year to file the claim.
  4. California requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Every driver on the road is required to carry insurance. If you are partly at fault for an accident, you will be responsible for that percentage of your damages. And if that amount exceeds your car insurance policy limits, you will likely be stuck paying it out of pocket. If you are unsure of what your current auto insurance policy covers, discuss it with your insurance company. Make sure you are adequately covered in the event of an accident, to avoid having to deal with high out-of-pocket costs.

While it is helpful to have an understanding of California’s laws affecting personal injury claims, it is just as important to find a reputable, experienced personal injury attorney to represent your case. These cases can become quite complex, and insurance companies are often more interested in protecting their bottom line than compensating you fairly for your injuries. Before you accept a settlement for your damages, consult with a California personal injury attorney about your case.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured  and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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