Any individual who files a personal injury claim in the state of California must be aware that there can be various limitations on such claims in the state. While there are fewer limitations than in many other US states there are still some to consider when making a claim. This requires an understanding of California law and the civil procedures within. Personal injury victims must avoid their case being compromised by ensuring they are fully aware of the statute of limitations and any damages cap on their case.
Statute of Limitations
All states will set a legal time limit for how long a person has in which to file a lawsuit after suffering some kind of injury. This time limit is a law and is called the statute of limitations. Depending upon the type of claim you are making, the statute of limitations will have different limits.
In California, the statute of limitations gives the injured person, the claimant, two years from the time of the probable event which caused them harm. The court will refuse to hear the case if the claim is not filed within the two-year time period. This will result in a loss of any possible compensation for the injury sustained. There are a small number of special situations that could extend the two-year deadline or which could affect the start of the given two-year period. It may be difficult to understand what has caused the victim’s suffering and it may take some time to narrow it down to a certain event.
There are some cases where the statute of limitations deadline differs, such as:
- Property damage or trespassing has a 3 year deadline.
- Defamation of character has only a 1 year deadline.
- Fraud has a 3 year deadline.
- Asbestos exposure is one year from discovery
This shows that there are some exceptions to the standard statute of limitations.
Damages Cap on Personal Injury Cases
In many US states there is a maximum damages cap on personal injury cases and claimants in California should be heartened to know that they do not have the limitations that some states have in place. Such caps can have a major effect on the amount of personal damages that can be claimed and this could also be a factor in whether an attorney would even take on the case. A San Francisco personal injury attorney lists a number of kinds of accidents that can be claimed for under a personal injury case. For the most part, there is no damage cap to personal injury cases in California but it can sometimes be difficult to prove that some of the pain and suffering, some of the mental anguish, was not being experienced before the accident or injury occurred and this could result in lower payouts. In general, such non-economic damages can far surpass a victim’s economic damages (loss of income or earning capacity for example).
Medical Malpractice cases are an exception and there are caps on the damages that can be claimed for such cases. Victims of personal injury should most definitely speak to a dedicated personal injury lawyer to ensure they are fully informed about any possible caps and limitations which could affect their case.
California Shared Fault Laws
In some cases, the person being blamed for the injury could claim that the victim was also at fault for what happened and the underlying event meant that they were also (even partially) to blame. Accepting partial blame, or sharing of liability is highly likely to affect the amount of compensation received from the other party involved.
In such cases where the fault is shared, the general rule is the amount of compensation awarded will be reduced by the equivalent of the percentage of the accident that it is decided was your own fault.
Liability for Dog Bites
Dog owners are often protected in some states, to a certain degree, from liability if their dog were to injure somebody, especially if the owner had no reason to feel that their pet was dangerous. In California, this is not the case, and there is a specific statute which is called the California Civil Code section 3342. This statute holds the owner strictly liable and completely responsible legally in most, if not all, situations when their dog injures somebody through biting. No fault needs to be proven and no amount of negligence needs to be shown, the statute simply holds them liable.