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Understanding Personal Injury in California

When you've been injured because of the careless negligence of someone else, you have the right to compensation for any losses you may suffer. The laws regarding personal injury lawsuits vary from state to state, and that can make it difficult to know where you stand. California has specific laws covering personal injury, and being familiar with them them is the first step towards taking charge of your future.

Statute of limitations

California law sets limits on how long you can wait to file a lawsuit for personal injury. In general, individuals must file a lawsuit within two years of their accident or injury, but there are a few exceptions.

One exception is the "discovery of harm" rule, which recognizes that a victim might not discover an injury until after the accident. In that case, the limit is from the time you discovered the injury, not from the time of the accident. There are a few other exceptions, so it's always a good idea to get started with your suit as soon as you recognize it will be necessary.

Liability limits

In almost every jurisdiction, there are some limits on personal damage and injury claims. California is no exception. When it comes to economic damages, the only limit is the amount of funds necessary to restore the affected party to their pre-accident condition. When it comes to non-economic damages, there are specific legal limits based on the economic damage you suffered.

Say you were planning to look at engagement rings with your girlfriend but an accident prevented you from doing so. That may have been a very painful incident, but it is hard to put a dollar amount on the damages. However, if you were in a car accident and your engagement ring was lost or destroyed, you can claim the ring itself as a damage resulting from the accident. There are exceptions to this too, of course, so it’s best to go over all the options with an expert Bakersfield car accident lawyer to thoroughly understand your options and rights.

Proving negligence

Under California law, there are some specific steps to go through to prove that someone's negligence resulted in your injury. In general, to prove negligence, you must be able to prove that:

  • The defendant had a duty of some kind
  • The defendant failed in this duty
  • It was this failure of duty that directly caused your injuries
  • The defendant should have known their negligence had the potential to harm
  • You have suffered verifiable damage because of the negligence

Of course the law has specific definitions that cover what negligence is for the purpose of the California court system.

Your liability

Every state is different in this respect, but in California, the total amount of your damages will be reduced by the amount that you were responsible for the accident or injury. This is known as comparative negligence.

Let's say that someone ran a red light and hit your car. If you were violating the law by using your mobile device at the time, you might be considered 20% at fault while the other driver would be considered 80% at fault. This means that if you are awarded $10,000 of compensation, that would then be reduced to $8,000 because of your comparative negligence.

The laws of any state can change quickly. It can be hard for most people to keep track of all the changes. Therefore, it might be in your best interest to get a personal injury lawyer who specializes in such events. By having a knowledgeable and well-qualified expert on your side, you’ll have a better chance of seeking justice and getting the compensation you deserve.

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