California Personal Injury Laws

personal injury law california

If you or a family member suffered injuries in an accident, you might be able to receive compensation under California personal injury laws. 

Remember that each personal injury claim is unique.

To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer about the particulars of your case as soon as possible. 

Personal Injury Law in California

Personal injury law covers a variety of claims, including:

Click the links above for more information on these types of personal injuries. Though many types of claims exist under California personal injury law, personal injury claims typically fall into three categories: strict liability, negligence, and intentional claims. 

Strict Liability Personal Injury Claims

Strict liability is a type of personal injury claim that applies when a particular behavior or activity results in harm. Strict liability means that you do not need to prove the other person was negligent. The law requires only that the person engaged in the behavior or activity.

In California, for example, strict liability often applies to dog bite cases and claims involving a defective product. 

Dog Bites in California

 If a dog bites you, you might have a claim against the dog owner based on strict liability. Because strict liability applies to dog bites, a dog owner is responsible even if they carefully guarded or restrained the dog. 

Products Liability Cases in California

 A company might be strictly liable for injuries caused by a defective product that the company sold to a customer. Strict liability applies to products liability claims if:

  • The product was unreasonably dangerous when the company sold it to a customer;
  • The customer used the product as intended or in a foreseeable manner; and
  • The defective product caused actual injury to the customer.

If strict liability does not apply, you might be able to bring a negligence claim instead.

Intentional Personal Injury Claims

An intentional claim means that the other person caused your injuries on purpose. These injuries are generally not an accident or due to another's carelessness. Common personal injury claims based on intent include battery, assault, theft, and trespassing. 

In some cases, intentional injuries can also result in criminal charges. The criminal case is a matter for a state prosecutor, however, not the individual parties.

Negligent Personal Injury Claims

If your injury was due to another's careless conduct, you might have a negligence-based personal injury claim. California personal injury law allows you to recover if the defendant's negligence caused your injury. A negligence claim typically requires that you prove three things: 

  • The defendant breached a legal duty;
  • You suffered harm; and 
  • The defendant's negligence caused that harm.

Personal injury claims like traffic collisions or slip and falls typically involve negligence.

Damages Available in Personal Injury Claims

You might be able to recover compensation called "damages" for your injuries. California personal injury laws provide economic and non-economic damages for personal injury claims. 

Economic damages compensate you for the money you lost due to an accident or injury. Economic damages include:

  • Medical bills and treatment costs;
  • Rehabilitation or physical therapy;
  • Lost wages and diminished earning capacity;
  • Costs of property repair and replacement;
  • Loss of use of property; and
  • Loss of employment.

Non-economic damages account for injuries you suffered that are tough to measure in dollars and cents. Examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Inconvenience;
  • Mental suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Aggravation of prior injuries; and
  • Disfigurement.

California also allows for the possibility of recovering punitive damages. Punitive damages apply when the other party acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. In other words, the other party’s conduct was intentionally harmful or misleading. 

Shared Fault in California Personal Injury Law

California's shared fault statute requires courts to award damages based on each person's responsibility for the accident. California is a "pure comparative fault" state. This means you can still recover money damages even if you are mostly at fault for an accident. The court reduces the amount of your award based on your degree of responsibility. 

For example, if your damages total $100,000 but you were 80% at fault, the court reduces your damages award to $20,000 to account for your degree of responsibility.

Proving the other party’s fault will likely increase your compensation. By proving fault, a personal injury lawyer can help you increase your settlement amount.

Statute of Limitations

Personal injury law in California defines certain time limits for bringing your claim. This time limit is called a statute of limitations. You must bring your claim within two years or, in most cases, you will not be allowed to bring the claim at all. You should contact a lawyer long before the statute of limitations passes. Having a lawyer in your corner can ensure that your claim is not barred because too much time has passed. 

Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you are injured by someone else’s carelessness, contact a personal injury lawyer today. The lawyers at Starpoint Law are dedicated to obtaining fair compensation for our clients.

Reach us online or by phone at 310-556-9627 to schedule a free case evaluation today - we are here to help. 

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