If you’ve been injured in an accident, or on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. But US personal injury law is not consistent across all states. In fact, there’s nothing whatsoever in federal law about personal injury. Personal injury cases are decided on the basis of tort law, which varies by state.
So, what if you’ve been injured in the state of California? Or what if you’re being sued for personal injury? Here’s a quick guide to what you should expect.
California Tort Law is Based on Comparative Fault
In most states, tort law falls into two different categories: fault, and no fault. In a fault state, the person who is directly responsible for the accident is responsible for paying all related bills. For example, if someone is injured on your property in a fault state, you have to pay all their medical bills. Conversely, in a no-fault estate, a person’s insurance company is responsible for paying the bills.
California is a bit of an oddball. It’s a comparative fault state, which means that a judge or jury must decide what percentage of fault each person is responsible for. So, for example, if you’re in an accident, and the judge finds you 25 percent at fault, you will pay 25 percent of your medical bills, and the balance will be paid by the other driver’s insurance company.
California Insurance Companies Have Generous Deadlines
When you’re injured in an accident, you need to notify the other person’s insurance company. In the most common case, an auto accident, this would be an auto insurance company. The company will then have 15 days to acknowledge your claim. Within this period, expect to get a call from an actuary who will ask you questions about your claim. They will ask to record your answers, but California is a two-party consent state. You don’t have to let them record if you don’t want to.
The company will then have 40 days to either accept your claim or deny it. Most likely, they will offer you a settlement for less than your actual damages. To get a more fair payment, you should contact an attorney. The attorney can negotiate on your half to get a better deal. Either way, once a settlement has been reached, the company will have 30 days to pay you. In the event that you can’t reach an acceptable settlement, you’ll need to proceed with a lawsuit.
The California Statute of Limitations is Three Years
Not all injuries are immediately apparent. For example, a back injury such as a slipped disk can take months or even years to fully manifest. In California, you have up to three years to file a personal injury claim. A court can waive this requirement under certain circumstances, but you’ll need a qualified attorney to get that done.
Your Odds are Better With an Attorney
Regardless of whether you’re filing a claim or being sued, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney. The fact is that insurance companies have staffs of high-powered corporate lawyers who know insurance law like the back of their hands.
Odds are, you don’t have the legal expertise to take on this challenge by yourself. You need a professional attorney, someone who knows tort law just as well as the insurance company’s team. By hiring the right law firm, like the KJT Law Group, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any challenge the big corporate teams can throw at you.