Understanding Personal Injury Laws and Liability Rules
While not every injury warrants a lawsuit, California’s personal injury laws offer an avenue for you to seek compensation if your injury occurs due to someone else’s negligence or actions. Personal injury claims and lawsuits are quite complicated, as both the victims and the at-fault party must maneuver through burdens of proof and specific statutes in order to reach a resolution.
So, whether serious injuries were sustained in auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, or other accidents, it’ll help to understand how a typical personal injury case works as you may be seeking a personal injury attorney for legal assistance. Let’s look at a few that have a significant impact on any claim or lawsuit after an accident.
Deadline for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuits in California
Like every other state, California sets limits on the amount of time you need to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. The legal term for this deadline is called a statute of limitations. The deadline for personal injury cases in California gives the victim two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the people responsible (California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1.). Generally, you must file your lawsuit within the first two years of the injury. If you miss the deadline, the court will deny your request to file a claim and you will not be able to recover compensation–regardless if you were not at fault for the accident.
However, there are special conditions that might extend the deadline for a lawsuit. For instance, if the plaintiff is a minor, the family will have two years from the date of their child’s 18th birthday to file a claim. Another exception can be found on most personal injury claims involving a criminal tort.
There is also an exception for circumstances where the plaintiff didn’t learn about the damage until later. This is known as the “discovery of harm” rule. This rule applies when the victim does not discover the extent of their injuries until later on. In this case, the statute of limitations only starts after the victim discovers the injury. However, you have to provide proof that the injury didn’t happen at a later date.
Personal Injury Case Limitations
An additional limitation you should understand is the maximum compensation they can receive for their injuries and damages. This limitation can have a significant impact on the potential value of your claim and will influence a lawyer’s decision to help with your case. Some accidents are not as severe as others, so they may not require legal representation. For example, a small fender-bender that costs $1,000 in repairs can best be resolved with your personal car insurance provider. However, an accident that accumulated over $10,000 would be worth seeking legal representation such as personal injury cases involving medical malpractice or wrongful death claims for example.
You can receive economic damages, which are based on the financial losses that resulted from the personal injury accident. These amounts don’t have any particular limitations. Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, compensation for disability, and loss of earning capacity. As a victim, you do have a limit that is related to the non-economic damages part of your claim, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience. However, proving non-economic damages may be more challenging to prove, as they are intangible losses. In California, victims of personal injuries are limited to one digital multiplier of the economic damages they receive.
Shared Fault in California Personal Injury Law
The shared fault statute in the state of California requires the civil courts to award damages based on the responsibility of each individual in an accident. It currently follows a system of pure comparative, which means you can still recover compensation for injuries and damages even if you are mostly at fault for an accident. The amount of your award will be reduced based on the degree of responsibility.
For instance, if your damages total $100,000 but you were 60% at fault for the accident, the court may reduce your award to $40,000, accounting for your level of responsibility. Your ability to prove the other party’s fault will likely increase the amount of compensation you receive. Fortunately, an attorney can help you prove fault and increase your settlement amount.
Process of Personal Injury Claims in California
You should be careful when dealing with an insurance company after a serious accident in California. Some companies may try to rush you through the personal injury settlement process before satisfactorily evaluating the extent of the damages. Experienced personal injury attorneys may help in assessing a fair value for your personal injury claim and help you get maximum compensation, even if that means filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Ensure you don’t make any formal statements or sign legal documents without prior review by your attorney first. It is also important to document your injuries and receive the necessary medical care. Keep accurate and detailed records of your medical expenses, injuries, and damage repairs.
Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in an auto accident in Cerritos and want to protect your legal rights, the law firm of Heritage Accident Lawyers is here to help you file your personal injury suit. Establish an attorney-client relationship with us and our lawyers will get started on your personal injury case with a comprehensive and compassionate approach to help get you the full and fair compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation today.