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How California Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims are filed everyday. Is there a deadline for your claim? A statute of limitations is a law that states the maximum amount of time in which legal proceedings may occur. Personal injury claims have statutes of limitations. 

There are other statutes that may affect your compensation amount and the basis of your claim. What are California statutes that may affect your personal injury claim? Can a personal injury attorney help?

What is the Statute of Limitations in California for Personal Injury Claims? 

Is there a deadline for personal injury claims? Yes, the truth is that from the time of the accident, there is a limited amount of time injured individuals have to file a lawsuit. If you are filing a personal injury claim in California, you typically have 2 years. 

This statute of limitations encompasses most personal injury accidents, except for medical malpractice. 

What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Passes?

If you do not file a personal injury claim by the second anniversary of the incident, what happens? Trying to file a claim past the statute of limitations is essentially a lost cause. The statute of limitations disables people from being able to recover damages from an accident. 

This is why it is vital you sit down with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You do not want to miss the deadline to be able to obtain the necessary compensation for your damages. 

What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice? 

California law recognizes medical malpractice occurring under different circumstances than other personal injury cases. Under the statute of limitations for medical malpractice, an injured individual must file a claim within:

  • 3 years of a medical error
  • 1 year of discovering a medical error
  • 1 year after the patient may have discovered the error


How could this work in a medical malpractice case? For example, if a surgical error left an individual with injuries, they would have additional time to file a personal injury claim after discovering the error. 

Though many personal injury cases do not have a cap on the damages that can be pursued, one California statute puts a maximum amount to non-economic damages pursued in a medical malpractice case. Non-economic damages cover things such as: 

  • Pain and suffering 
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 
  • Disfigurement or scarring 

A California statute (California Code §3333.2) puts a maximum amount of $250,000 worth of non-economic damages that could be pursued. This is only for non-economic damages. Punitive and economic damages have no limit. It ultimately depends on the case and injuries obtained. 

Medical malpractice affects many people everyday. It can be intimidating to be filing a case against a clinic or medical provider, but you should not have to go about the process alone. Though this can be a tricky personal injury case to navigate, a personal injury attorney can help!

How is Negligence Defined in California?

One thing that sets California statutes apart from other states is how the state defines negligence. Many states often do not even include a definition of negligence in their statutes. California establishes liability for an injury “occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person”. 

In order to prove a personal injury claim, the injured individual must provide evidence that their injuries were a direct result of another person’s negligence. As long as it was proven that the liable party failed to maintain the standard duty of care, a personal injury claim for compensation can be pursued.

What is Comparative Fault in California?

California is deemed a comparative fault state. This sets California apart from a variety of other states when it comes to the placement of liability. 

Comparative fault means that the liable party is not responsible for any damages that were caused by the injured party. This means that both parties may be at fault for an incident. 

How can this affect compensation? If an injured party is found to be some percentage at fault, then the percent is reduced from their compensation amount. 

For example, if an injured party is found 40% responsible for their injuries from a car accident due to not wearing a seatbelt, their $10,000 claim amount is reduced to $6,000. 

Competitive fault in California ensures that injured people still receive compensation, even if they were found to be partially at fault for the accident. Even if an injured person was found to be 50% or 60% at fault, they may still obtain compensation. This is different from other states, which may disable an injured person from recovering compensation if they are found 50% or more at fault.

What is the California Tort Claims Act? 

Sovereign immunity usually protects state government workers from being sued by their citizens. However, this immunity can vary under the statutes of different states. 

The California Tort Claims Act waives sovereign immunity for personal injury and wrongful death. If you are filing a claim against a government worker or entity, there are special rules and limitations that may apply. For example, a person has 6 months from the date of the accident to file a claim against a government agency. 

The government agency you are filing a claim against has 45 days to respond to the claim. If denied, you have another 6 months to take the claim to court. Though it can seem like an intimidating process, working with a personal injury lawyer can make the legal obstacle course much easier to navigate. 

How Do Wrongful Death Claims Work in California? 

California statutes also differentiate from other states when it comes to wrongful death claims. 

Wrongful death claims develop when a person dies from the negligent or reckless acts of another person or business. 

In some states, only the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim for damages. Other states allow only the deceased person’s survivors to file a claim. However, in the state of California, either the person’s estate or survivors can go ahead and start a wrongful death claim. 

The deceased person’s estate can file a claim to obtain damages for funeral expenses and pain and suffering. The person’s survivors can name damages such as loss of financial support or additional mental anguish, just as a few examples. 

Wrongful death claims arise every year. There can be a variety of accidents that lead to wrongful death claims, with some of the most common including car accidents, medical malpractice, and truck accidents. 

Should I Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer? 

Every state has their own statutes. California is no different. Is your personal injury case affected by California statutes? It is in your best interest to sit down with a personal injury lawyer and discuss your unique case and legal options. 

If your personal injury case is nearing its statute of limitations, you should act fast. Sit down with one of our expert San Diego personal injury attorneys to discuss your case now! You or your loved ones should not have to pay for another party’s reckless and/or negligent actions out of your own pocket. 


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