Information on Personal Injury Laws in Calfornia

If you have been involved in an accident and sustained injuries, you should make a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. The laws on filing personal injury suits vary depending on the state you reside. The following are some of the fundamental laws on claims of personal injury in California.

Requirements for Damages

Under California law, to recover damages for an injury, you should prove that:

  • The at-fault party was negligent
  • The negligence of the at-fault party was the cause of your injuries

Statutory Limitations

Every state has a set limit of time within which you are supposed to make a claim in case of an accident. According to the California Code of Civil Procedures, a personal injury claim must be made two years from the date of the accident. Failure to make a claim within the two-year period relinquishes your entitlement to damages in the future. In claims against a government agency, county, or city, you are required to make a claim within six months from the date of the incident.

Shared Fault

In a personal injury accident in which you are partly responsible, you stand to get a reduced award for damages. In shared fault cases, California applies the “pure comparative negligence” rule. The amount of compensation you will receive in a case of shared fault is equal to your percentage of blame for the incident. For example, if you are involved in a traffic accident in which the at-fault party ran a stop sign, but you were also driving above the speed limit, you are likely to share 10 percent of the liability for the accident while the at-fault party is allocated 90 percent.

Limits on Injury Damages

California law has some restrictions on the damages that you can recover in personal injury lawsuits.

Under California law, uninsured drivers cannot recover non-economic damages after an auto accident even if the other driver is ultimately liable for the accident. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, physical impairment, and disfigurement. The exception to this rule is when an uninsured driver is involved in an accident with a driver who was driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act also places a cap on non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice. According to this Act, you cannot recover more than $250,000 worth of damages for medical malpractice.

Understanding DUI Laws in Virginia

The State of Virginia, along with city and county law enforcement, has a very aggressive attitude regarding the implementation of the DUI laws. In fact, Virginia has some of the nation’s harshest sentences for a DUI conviction. According to the Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266:

  • It is illegal for you to operate any motor vehicle if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater.
  • You are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle “..while … under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug…” defined as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, including medication that has been legally prescribed to you.
  • Your first conviction on a DUI charge can result in a fine of between $250 to $300, license suspension or restriction for one year, mandatory participation in an anti-driving while impaired program, and installation an ignition interlock device.
  • A second DUI conviction could lead to from one month to one year in jail if the second conviction occurred less than five years from the first offense. A minimum of 10 days in jail is imposed if the conviction occurred within five to 10 years from the first. There are also the usual license restrictions/revocation and ignition interlock provisions.
  • Penalties for a third DUI conviction get progressively worse, and you can expect to serve up to one year in jail and have your license revoked or restricted.

Additionally, there are special provisions in the DUI laws for BACs in those under the age of 21 and commercial drivers (0.04), refusing to take a chemical alcohol or drug test, and open containers. There can also be additional penalties if you are arrested for DUI and you have a passenger under the age of 17 in your vehicle or if you are convicted of DUI in Virginia and you are under the legal drinking age of 21. Also, if you are involved in an accident resulting in a fatality, you can be charged with a felony and face at least a year in jail.

Clearly, the laws of Virginia can be very confusing, and an arrest on the charge of violating the Virginia DUI laws can lead to a host of unpleasant consequences. It is, therefore, important that you obtain representation by an attorney with experience in handling DUI cases in the Virginia courts as soon as it is possible after your arrest.

A DUI attorney will review the circumstances of your arrest to make sure that you were not illegally detained and that every subsequent stage of your arrest was conducted in strict accordance with established principles of law.

Remember that the fundamental principles of our legal system state that anyone who is arrested on any criminal charge is assumed to be innocent until proven otherwise and that everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial trial.

To protect your legal rights after a DUI arrest, you should contact an experienced attorney to handle your case.