Accident Compensation in California

Along with all the glorious perks of living in the Golden State, including year-round good weather, breathtaking scenery, and movie stars, Californians also have to (unfortunately) deal with some of the nation’s worst traffic. And with all those cars packing the roads, accidents are quite common. This means drivers should be aware of at least the basics of California accident compensation laws, but often aren’t. This short article walks you through a breakdown of the most important aspects of our state’s laws pertaining to accident compensation.

Basic Negligence Rules

California is an “at fault” system, which means that if you are in a car accident you must show fault on the part of the other driver if you want to successfully seek compensation. California is also a “pure comparative negligence” jurisdiction. This distinction means that a court of law will proportion out responsibility for shouldering the cost of an accident based upon a liability percentage assigned to each driver.

This is best shown through example. If Driver #1 suffers $10,000 worth of damage in a car accident but a judge or jury finds that they are 10% at fault for the accident, while Driver #2 shoulders 90% of the blame, then Driver #1 would only be awarded $9,000 in damages. This is pure comparative negligence. Of course, if Driver #1 is found to be blame-free and Driver #2 is found to be entirely at fault, then the first driver could be awarded the full $10,000.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a deadline for bringing your claim in a court of law. With limited exceptions to the rule, when a plaintiff has an otherwise valid claim but fails to file a lawsuit within the requisite amount of time, the claim will fail as a matter of law. Here are the various statutes of limitations in California that pertain to car accidents:

  • Personal injury claims: 2 years
  • Property damage claims: 3 years
  • Claims against a government agency: 6 months

Since it takes a good deal of preparation to get ready to file a lawsuit, it’s very important that you see a Southern California car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident.

Types of Damages

Car accidents can produce a variety of both economic and non-economic damages. Here are examples of each:

  • Economic damages are easily measured in money or cost, and include property damage, past and future medical care related to the accident, and lost wages from time you cannot be at work while recovering.
  • Non-economic damages cannot be easily measured in terms of money, and include pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and emotional distress.

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident there is no time to waste. Since California’s statute of limitations impose a deadline on filing your claim in a court of law, you’ll want to call the Southern California car accident lawyers at Steinberg Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to get a free consultation and evaluation of your case. Our number is 1-800-350-8888. Call us today to find out how we can help. 

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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