California Accident & Injury Laws

Like other states, courts in California handle almost all lawsuits and civil cases including injury and accident claims.  California injury law covers claims for medical and professional malpractice, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall type accidents and other matters like assault and battery.  Accident and Injury laws are similar in states, but each state can have different statutes of limitations, limits on the amounts of settlements for certain claims and other types of regulations.

California, like some other states, has a tort system for insurance claims which requires that a driver seeking compensation must show fault on the part of the other driver if he or she wants their claim to be successful.

In California, if your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will calculate percentages of fault for each driver, and reduce each driver’s liability accordingly. For example, if a driver suffers $50,000 in damages, but is found to be 10 percent at fault, his recovery will be reduced to 90% of his damages — here, $45,000.

Below, are some links to California’s car accident compensation laws, including time limits, limits on damages.

Statute of Limitations • 2 years for personal injury lawsuits (Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 335.1)

• 3 years for property damage lawsuits (Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 338).

• 6 months for claims involving a government agency (Cal. Gov’t Code § 911.2)

Limits on Damages No non-economic damages for uninsured drivers (Prop. 213, codified at Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 3333.4)
Other Limits Medical Malpractice non-economic damages limited to $250,000 (Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 3332)

Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer is an important step if you’ve been injured in a California accident.  Below are some links to various types of accident injury lawyers.

What To Do After An Accident

If you are involved in an auto, truck, or motorcycle accident, there are things you should do to protect yourself and your legal interests. Below are some general guides of what to do after an accident:

  • STOP.  Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it seems minor at the time.
  • THINK SAFETY. Try to make the scene of the accident as safe as possible by moving vehicles off the road if they are blocking traffic and can be moved, set up flares, cones or other items to alert oncoming traffic of the accident.
  • NOTIFY THE POLICE. Most states require that the police be called to the scene of the accident if damages are over a certain dollar amount.  However, it can be a good idea to contact the police after an accident so that you can have a police report of the accident for insurance purposes and filing a claim.
  • MAKE NOTES. If possible take accurate notes of how the accident happened while the accident is fresh in your mind. Make sure that you tell the police exactly what happened, don’t exaggerate or guess as to what happened, just tell the truth as you remember it.  Get the names and contact information of any witnesses that may have seen exactly what happened.
  • TAKE PHOTOS. If possible take as many photos as you can to document the area of the accident including skid marks, roadways, and the overall scene of the accident.
  • EXCHANGE PERSONAL INFORMATION. Be sure to exchange your personal information as well as insurance information with anyone involved in the accident.
  • NOTIFY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.  Contact your insurance company as soon as possible so that they have a record of the accident and can start your claim.
  • CONTACT A MEDICAL OFFICE.  You should seek out medical treatment even if you don’t think you suffered any injuries.  Often times, injuries do not present themselves immediately and you may not notice you’ve suffered an injury.  After accidents, many people seek out chiropractors, physical therapists and other doctors for treatment.
  • START AN ACCIDENT FILE. Keep all records associated with your accident so that you can easily find documents when necessary.
  • TALK TO A LAWYER. After an injury accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney to ensure your legal rights are protected.