How Do California Injury Lawsuits Work?

Lawsuits are remedies in civil courts for people who wish to recover damages brought about by negligence. Individuals, companies, and even the government can be sued if the case has merit. Complex laws govern these cases, so it is best to consult a personal injury attorney in San Diego before taking action. As for the basics of how California injury lawsuits work . . . read on to find out.

Standing to Sue

The first thing that you must make sure of is that you have the standing to sue the other party. For personal injury cases, the one who was injured has the right to file the lawsuit; a mere witness cannot sue on behalf of the victim. Only those who suffered damages can collect compensation. One exception is wrongful death cases. Since the injured person has died, the right to sue is given to the heirs or representatives of the deceased.

Deadline for Filing a Suit

The lawsuit must be filed within the prescribed period or else the injured party loses the right to use this remedy. In most cases, the limit will be two years from the date of the accident. Make sure to go to court before the deadline so as not to fail due to a technicality. Note that there are special cases which could lead to an extension or a contraction of this period. For instance, you must file suits against the government within six months.

Shared Fault and Comparative Negligence

California requires fault to be established. Unlike no-fault states, those involved in an accident must go through the painstaking process of evaluating contributions to the damages. Most cases will show that both parties were liable, but this does not mean that their contributions were equal. One side may be ninety percent to blame while the other is only ten percent to blame. It would only be fair for the more liable party to pay for the damages. However, the payment can be reduced by the fault percentage of the recipient.

Strict Liability for Animal Attacks

People are responsible for the animals they keep. If a dog attacks someone, the owner would be the one to take the blame. There are states that adhere to the “one-bite rule” which essentially gives owners a free pass for their pet’s first sign of violent tendencies. This is deemed as a warning that should help them avoid a repeat. California, on the other hand, has elected to implement a stricter rule which punishes owners even for the initial attack. This is called the “strict liability rule”.

Set Caps for Damages

The damages that can be awarded by courts can rise to large amounts of money. These will be based on the actual injuries and other losses sustained by the injured person. There will be cases where the limits are imposed to prevent abuse. For example, there is a $250,000 cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Uninsured drivers are also prevented from getting any non-economic damages after an accident.