If you were recently involved in an accident that resulted in physical or psychological damage or injuries, you’re probably asking yourself what happened. If you believe the answer to that question is that another person, party, or entity was responsible for your suffering, you may have a personal injury legal case. Personal injury law in the United States can be complex, and varies from state to state. If the accident or event that caused you some type of harm occurred in the state of California, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with personal injury law in California.
Once you have a full understanding of California’s legal structure, rules, and limitations, you will be better equipped to assess your case and move it forward in the best possible manner. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about personal injury law in California.
The burden of proving negligence
The majority of personal injury cases in California come down to whether or not the injured party can prove negligence on the part of the accused. If you believe your personal injury was caused by another person or company’s negligence, be prepared to prove that claim in court. This isn’t as simple as it sounds; California’s legal system measures a defendant’s negligence against the “reasonable prudence” of their actions. Basically, this means that the court will look to determine if the defendant in your case exercised an adequate amount of care and diligence that a “reasonable person” would.
For example, a reasonable store owner would routinely inspect their shops for any obviously dangerous conditions that could potentially hurt a patron, such as a large puddle of water someone could slip on or a low-hanging display someone could bang their head against.
California legal law uses four factors to determine if a party acted in a negligent manner: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. In short, these four elements are used to decide if the defendant was responsible for ensuring the plaintiff’s safety in that situation, whether or not they failed to meet that responsibility, and did that failure directly lead to the plaintiff’s injury? Finally, does that injury entitle the plaintiff to compensation due to medical bills, psychological or physical suffering, time spent not working, or other factors?
You should also be aware that the defendant in your case may claim that you share some of the blame for your injury. In these scenarios, California uses a “pure comparative negligence” law. This means that if you are indeed found to be partially responsible for your injury, the compensation you receive from the verdict will be reduced according to the percentage of fault found to be yours in the incident. As you can imagine, things can get complicated when trying to determine shared fault. If you think your case may head in this direction, it is probably a good idea to consult a personal injury lawyer. There are law firms in California specialized in personal injury lawsuits, such as Avrek Law Firm. These experts can help you build the best possible argument for your case.
Statute of limitations
Each state has its own statute of limitations regarding personal injury lawsuits, and California is no different. Under California law, you must go to court and file a lawsuit against the responsible party within two years of the exact date of the injury or wrongful death. However, there are exceptions. If you are filing a lawsuit against a California state, city, or county government agency, the claim must be filed within six months of the injury. Also, if your lawsuit involves medical malpractice, the filing date can be extended to within three years from the date of the injury.