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Understanding California Personal Injury Laws

scale of justice on tableEvery state has laws regarding personal injury actions – one of the many types of torts that seek monetary damages. California personal injury laws apply to intentional torts such as violent assault, negligence torts arising from vehicle accidents, and strict liability torts that can encompass defective product injuries and animal attacks.

California Personal Injury Laws

When you’ve suffered injury because of another party’s negligence, breach of duty, or purposeful conduct, it is possible to file a legal action against the responsible party to recover financial compensation for a variety of losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, rehab expenses and pain and suffering.

However, in order to recover damages, it’s important to have a basic understanding of personal injury laws in California and retain an attorney who specializes in this legal field. According to a study by the Insurance Research Council, individuals who retain personal injury attorneys recover almost three times more compensation than those who represent themselves.

California personal injury laws impose deadlines for filing a lawsuit. Here’s an overview of important things you should know after being harmed in an accident.

Statute of Limitations – Deadlines for filing a claim

The statute of limitations refers to the time frame you have to bring a lawsuit in court.  Once that time period runs out, you are barred from filing a legal action. In California, the courts allow injured persons two years from the date of their injury to file a legal complaint. In cases where the injury is not immediately discovered, you have one year from the discovery date to file a personal injury case.

California deadlines for personal injury actions:

  • Any kind of personal injury ( car accident, slip and fall, workplace accident): 2 years from the accident, or 1 year from the date the harm was discovered
  • Claims against a California city, county or state government agency:  Six months to 1 year to file a claim.

Because personal injury claims are time-sensitive, it’s wise to begin collecting evidence and speak to an attorney as soon as possible after the injury event.

California laws on shared fault

California laws on comparative negligence can affect your compensation if you are partly to blame for the accident. For example, if the courts determine that you were speeding at the time of the car accident and are therefore 20% liable for the crash, your payout would be reduced by that percentage. In other words, you would receive $80,000 out of a $100,000 car accident settlement.

It’s worth noting that in California, uninsured drivers are prevented from recovering non-economic damages (for pain and suffering) following an auto accident, even in cases where the other motorist is 100% at fault.

Strict liability for dog bites in California

Several states have adopted a “one bite rule” that protects dog owners from being sued when their animals attack or injure someone for the first time.  California is not lenient in this area, and under Civ. Code § 3342, the state imposes strict liability on the animal owner, even for first-time offenses.  California’s dog bite laws state that dog owners are legally responsible for the damages incurred by any person who is bitten/injured while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the owner’s property, regardless of the canine’s history of viciousness.

Request a free legal consultation

The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Ellis Law Corporation have successfully negotiated and tried thousands of claims involving automobile accidents, slip and fall injuries and defective products. By enlisting medical specialists, accident reconstructionists and industry experts, we make certain our clients obtain a maximum recovery.

For more information about filing a personal injury case in California, please call 1-800-INJURED to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation claim review.

Additional California Personal Injury Laws Resources:

  1. California Courts, Statute of Limitations http://www.courts.ca.gov/9618.htm
  2. California Legislature, Driving Offenses http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=23103.&highlight=true&keyword=driving+reckless
  3. California Legislature, Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&division=11.&title=&part=&chapter=5.&article=