How Do You Claim Injury Damages in California?
When you get injured in an accident, one question appears before all: how will I cover my injury expenses? Your insurance company will determine to what extent they will cover your expenses, but in most cases you will not receive just compensation. Read below to find out more about injury claims.
Transmitting a Claim LetterYour lawyer will transmit to the other party a so-called claim letter, which contains: details of your trauma, the details of the incident. Often, the claim letter will contain a specialist's opinion, especially if the accident case requires the help of accident reconstruction specialists, engineers and others. Your lawyer will suggest a relevant professional to handle those details.
There is a statute of limitations that you need to take into consideration. This statute sets limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you have been injured and varies from state to state. Deadlines differ depending on the kind of case you are filing:
- 2 years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the negligent party in personal injury cases
- 6 months to file an injury claim against a city, county, or California state government agency
These time limits mentioned above are valid for California. You can read more about the California statute of limitations for personal injury cases at California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1.
The ReplyThe defendant will investigate the case and your claim and will reply to the letter within a specific timeframe. Generally, the reply should arrive in no more than 3 months. In the reply, the defendant must either accept or deny liability for your injuries.
Settling the ClaimIf the defendant is assuming legal responsibility for your injuries, your lawyer will proceed to settle the claim. The value of the claim will be determined by him/her and you will fix the amount you can agree to. A demand for a certain amount can be included in the drafted agreement proposal. If the defendant agrees with the value of the claim, the claim is then resolved and there will be no need to start a trial in a legal court.
Drafting a Monetary OfferThe defendant might draft their own monetary offer, in which case you and your attorney will have to discuss the matter. If you cannot settle out of court, you can begin litigation in which your claim will be analyzed by a court judge. The magistrate will fix and communicate the date of your hearing so that you and your attorney can take care of the last details of your case.
California Shared Faults Laws and Limits on Injury DamagesCalifornia follows a "pure comparative negligence" rule in shared fault injury cases. This means that, if you are partially at fault for an accident, the amount of compensation you are legally entitled to will be reduced by the amount equal to your percentage of fault. If the injury lawsuit that goes to trial, courts are obligated to follow this rule.
In most cases, California does not place limits on the type or amount of compensation you are entitled to in a personal injury lawsuit or any injury-related insurance claim. However, if you are an uninsured driver, the law prevents you from recovering non-economic damages after an accident, even if the other driver is at fault completely. However, if the party at fault is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is convicted of DUI in that case, the uninsured driver will be able to recover non-economic damages. In medical malpractice cases, California law places a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages.