Personal Injury Laws: California

Laws governing personal injury claims vary from one state to the next. California personal injury claims are therefore unique to the state and are evaluated according to the state statutes and civil laws in the local jurisdiction. Filing a successful claim requires the assistance of a personal injury attorney familiar with handling cases such as yours in the state of California.

California is a “Comparative-Fault” State

Every state in the union sets its own standards for how personal injury claims are handled. Each state chooses a “fault-based system” in which the responsibility for injuries is determined. In some states, if you hold even a fraction of the responsibility for your own injuries, then you cannot seek damages by filing a lawsuit. In California however, you can be partially responsible for the incident or accident that resulted in your injuries and still file a claim against other parties who are also liable for your injuries.

California is a comparable-fault state and as such the degree or percentage of responsibility each party holds for the injuries suffered is fleshed out during the legal process. The amount of compensation to which you may be entitled is then reduced according to the degree of responsibility you hold. In other words, if your own negligence makes you 30 percent responsible for your own injuries, your awarded damages may be reduced by 30 percent, but this still means you can hold another person, business or some other entity responsible for the other 70 percent.

Potential Damages for Personal Injury in California

The damages that can be sought in a California personal injury claim include financial or economic losses as well as non-economic damages. Compensation can be awarded to cover the expenses you’ve incurred for medical care, in-home nursing or supportive care, and property. Additionally, you can recover lost wages and receive compensation for loss of future earnings abilities. In some cases, pain and suffering can also be included in the damages you seek. A personal injury attorney familiar with filing claims in the state of California will help you determine which damages should be included in your claim.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in California

Limitations are placed on the amount of time you have to file a personal injury claim in California. For liable and slander cases, the statute of limitations is one year. For all other personal injury claims, you have two years to file a claim. In some instances, the timeframe for filing can be extended or the statute of limitations can be waived; however, you will need the help of a personal injury attorney in order to argue extenuating circumstances for extending or waiving the limitations statute.

The statute of limitations clock begins ticking as soon as you realize you’ve suffered harm. In most personal injury cases, harm is immediately apparent, but there are some circumstances in which you may not realize you’ve been injured until much later. Medical malpractice and toxic exposure and poisoning cases may cause injuries that become apparent weeks or even years later. Once you realize you’ve suffered harm, you should seek legal help, even if the statute of limitations has already expired. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you file a claim based on extenuating circumstances.