If you have been involved in an accident and were injured, you may be entitled to compensation. In California, the rules of negligence claims apply to personal injury cases. Personal injury cases include motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other such claims.
In a negligence claim, for an injured victim to prevail, that injured victim must show:
- The at-fault party owed the victim a duty;
- The at-fault party breached this duty; and
- Due to this breach, the victim suffered damages.
A simple example of negligence would be an accident that involves drunk driving. The drunk driver had a duty to drive in a manner that was safe and reasonable under the circumstances.
The driver breached this duty by driving while intoxicated. Consequently, the driver’s actions were the direct cause of the victim’s injuries.
Although having insurance is not a requirement to recover damages in a California personal injury claim, it does have an effect on its outcome.
Insurance and Personal Injury Claims in California
California follows a principle called “no pay, no play.” Uninsured drivers generally have the right to file against others in a personal injury claim. However, the amount of damages these uninsured drivers are entitled to may be reduced significantly due to their lack of insurance.
California prohibits uninsured drivers from recovering any non-economic damages in a personal injury claim. Non-economic damages often make up a significant proportion of the total damages amount in a case. A bar on non-economic damages may cost a claimant thousands of dollars.
Non-economic damages generally include:
- Physical impairment
- Pain and suffering
However, there is an important exception to the bar on non-economic damages. If the accident was caused by a drunk (or otherwise impaired) driver, an uninsured motorist may claim both economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury claim.
Economic damages generally include those that are easily quantified. These are:
- Medical expenses, which include the estimated cost of future medical care
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Prescription costs
- The cost of remodeling or altering a residence to accommodate the victim’s injuries
- Property damage
These damages may be sought by an uninsured driver if he or she is injured in an accident.
Other Penalties for Driving without Insurance
Even if you are able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, if you drive without insurance in California, you may still face serious penalties. You could be fined more than $800 for driving without insurance, and you could have a Negligent Operator Treatment System point added to your license by the DMV.
You could also lose your license for up to a year if you were involved in a crash—even if it was not your fault.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
If you were involved in an accident in California, you only have a limited amount of time to file a legal claim to recover damages for your injuries. This deadline is called the statute of limitations.
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the incident.
Although this may seem like plenty of time, it is important to act as quickly as possible after an accident. It may take several months or longer to obtain all of the records needed to file a claim. Additionally, the longer you wait, the greater the risk that witnesses will forget important details about the case or will not be available to testify.
An experienced California personal injury attorney will ensure that your claim is filed in a timely manner and that it presents all of the evidence needed to demonstrate the extent of your injuries.
Call Kuvara Law Today to Set Up a Free Consultation
The San Rafael, California personal injury attorneys at Kuvara Law are experienced in various types of injury claims. Our attorneys work hard to ensure our clients receive the compensation they deserve.