In a nutshell, California personal injury law means accepting the consequences for your mistakes. In this context, these consequences are almost always money damages. Even though no amount of money can restore a broken life, these are the only type of damages that a civil judge has the power to award, at least in most cases.
Before about 1920, there was no such thing as tort law. Like most other legal subjects, California personal injury law mostly comes from England, and for personal injury purposes, that means the landmark 1932 case of Donoghue v. Stevenson. After the plaintiff found a dead and partially decomposed snail in the bottom of a beer bottle, she sued the bottler. At the time, her claim that the bottler had a duty to provide his customers with a safe system which would not allow snails to get into his bottles of ginger beer was completely novel.
In siding with the plaintiff, the court articulated what became known as the neighbor principle, by ruling that, “You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor.” This idea came to America and became the defender’s duty of care, which is the foundation of most California personal injury cases.
To receive compensation for their injuries, victim/plaintiffs have several legal options, mostly depending on the facts of the case. Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of torts in the Golden State:
In all these cases, the victim/plaintiff must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, which means “more likely than not.” This is the lowest standard of proof that the law recognizes.
Negligence cases, specifically car crash cases, are the most common types of California personal injury claims. So, it’s important to look at these cases a little more closely.
A basic negligence case has five elements:
For income tax purposes, the portion of a personal injury recovery directly related to a physical injury — and that includes both economic and noneconomic damages — is usually tax free.
Important time deadlines apply in California personal injury cases. Typically, victims have two years from the date of negligence to file a legal damage claim. That sounds like a long time, but considering that medical treatment must be entirely or substantially complete before a case is filed, there is actually a small window of time.
In some California personal injury matters, damage caps may apply as well. For example, the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act limits medical malpractice noneconomic damages to $250,000. A damage cap may also apply in a car crash case that involves an uninsured victim/plaintiff or in certain claims that involve punitive damages.
For prompt assistance with a car crash or any other negligence claim in California, contact Russell & Lazarus, APC today. You have a limited amount of time to act before the deadline to file a claim.