Each state has its laws and rules, and within those legal codes are time limitations known as a statute of limitations. In other words, it is a limit of time during which a personal injury claim or case can be filed. While some crimes or issues have no statute of limitations (such as certain instances of homicide), most will have a moment when a deadline applies.
What is the Limit in California?
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. That means you have that amount of time to file your lawsuit or go to court against those who are at fault. Should you fail to file within that two-year period, it is likely that the California court system will not refuse to hear the case. While there are some special situations that prolong the option, these are rare.
There are also some rules applying to filing a case against a government agency (city, county or state). In California, the statute of limitations is only six months and there are many strict rules around such cases.
Shared Fault Laws Explained
There are also some laws in California where the parties involved both share some level of liability. For instance, the defendant may say that the injured person is the one to blame (even partially) for the accident that led to the injury. In such instances, known as shared fault injury cases, the state uses what is known as a pure comparative negligence rule. This means that the amount of compensation available is going to be reduced by the amount equal to the percentage of fault.
As an example, if you were barely speeding (say five miles over the speed limit) when someone hit you after running through a stop sign, you would be assigned some of the blame. An expert might say it is 10% of the blame, and that would reduce whatever damages you win by that 10%.
Liability for Dog Bites in California
Dog owners in California have an unusual situation where bite incidents are concerned. The state has something known as strict liability in which full liability applies, whether or not it was the first time a dog has bitten someone. In almost all circumstances, the dog owner is legally responsible and no amount of fault or negligence has to be shown by the victim.
Limits on Injury Damages in California
The state also has a few unusual laws applying to limitations on the type or amounts of damages available in personal injury cases. They have no non- economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring and inconvenience. However, if the person who caused the incident was under the influence, such damages can occur.
There is also a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, and it is currently locked at $250k.
Anyone in California pursuing a claim for personal injury is best advised to begin the process by speaking with an attorney. They can inform you of the laws, how they apply to your case, and what your limitations may or may not be.