Best Personal Injury Lawyers In Stockton, CA Of 2024 – Forbes

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If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit in California, it’s important to understand the basic laws relevant to your case. Your personal injury lawyer can explain the specific laws applicable to your case, but knowing the general rules will help you keep track of the timelines and your eligibility to recover compensation.

Take a look at the brief guide below to understand the personal injury laws in California.

California Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations in California for most personal injury cases is two years. This means you have two years from the date when the negligent act took place to file your lawsuit to recover damages from the negligent party. If you miss this deadline, your case will most likely be dismissed.

There are certain rare exceptions where the statute of limitations can be suspended for some time. If the plaintiff is a minor or mentally disabled when the negligent act takes place, the statute of limitations starts after the plaintiff becomes an adult or the disability is remedied. The deadline also pauses in cases where the defendant leaves the state before any action is taken against them.

If a government agency is a defendant in your claim, you must file an administrative claim with that agency within six months. The agency will then respond to you within 45 days of the receipt of the claim. If your claim is rejected, you can file a lawsuit with the court within six months to recover compensation. Otherwise, you can file a case within two years from the date when the negligent act took place.

Similarly, if you are filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must send a 90-day advance notice to the concerned healthcare provider before taking any action against them.

Caps on Personal Injury Damages in California

California laws do not put any caps on economic damages in personal injury cases. However, in certain claims, state laws restrict the amount that can be recovered for non-economic damages.

  • If you were involved in an accident and you were driving without valid insurance, you cannot recover any non-economic damages, even if you were not at fault for causing the accident. The only exception to this rule is if the uninsured driver was injured by a drunk driver who was then convicted of DUI in California.
  • If you were injured during a medical procedure, you cannot recover more than $350,000 as non-economic damages currently but that amount will increase by $40,000 each year until it reaches $750,000. For wrongful deaths caused by medical malpractice, the cap for non-economic losses is currently $500,000, but that also is set to increase yearly by $50,000 until it reaches $1 million.

Identifying Fault in a Personal Injury Case

Like most states, California laws require the party responsible for the negligence to pay for the resultant injury. However, since the state applies the pure comparative negligence principle to determine the amount of compensation, you can recover damages for your injury even if you were mostly at fault for the accident.

Under the pure comparative negligence theory, you can recover compensation for your injuries after deducting the amount corresponding to your responsibility in causing the injury. For instance, if you were found to be 30% responsible for a car accident, you can recover 70% of the damages claimed. Similarly, if you were 80% at fault, you will only receive 20% of damages as compensation.

This means that even if you are able to prove the fault of the other party, they can still reduce your compensation significantly if they have evidence that your actions contributed to the accident.

How Can an Attorney Help You?

If you are injured by someone’s negligence in California, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you identify the correct defendants and file claims with the insurance companies. They will keep track of the deadlines for the necessary notices and make sure you follow all the requirements to take action against the negligent party successfully.

They will build a strong case by obtaining evidence, hiring experts and collecting witness testimony. They will negotiate with the insurance companies and fight for your rights until you recover fair compensation.

If the insurance company does not offer a satisfactory settlement amount, your lawyer will take your case to court and represent you in front of the jury.

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