What Is Considered Personal Injury in California?

Key points:

  • Every year, over 3,980 people die due to car accidents in California, with an estimated 250,000 reported cases of accident-related injuries in the state. 
  • Slip and fall accidents are likewise common, with over 14,000 reported cases in 2019 which accounted for more than 6,500 injuries. 
  • It is clear that the residents of California can be exposed to different types of life-altering personal injury cases with catastrophic consequences. Working with a California personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation for your losses and injuries. 

In 2019, it was reported that a total of $4.2 trillion was spent by the US economy on personal injuries alone. As part of the breakdown, $327 billion was dedicated to healthcare, $69 billion for work loss, and $3.8 trillion accounts for the decline in quality of life.

We are indeed more prone to injuries than we think, and it is beneficial to know about your legal rights in case you do suffer severe injuries because of another person’s reckless conduct or negligence. Working with a personal injury attorney in California can help you seek compensation to cover your losses. 

Here, we’ll cover what constitutes a personal injury, how personal injury law can protect you, and what your next steps should be following the incident. These accidents can sometimes be catastrophic and life-changing, and it is definitely beneficial to have someone knowledgeable about personal injury laws in your corner to uphold your legal rights.

What Is California Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law is also known as tort law, and this essentially covers your rights as a plaintiff after you have suffered from harm due to the negligence of another party. The legal system offers a solution in the form of financial compensation to help cover the medical and legal expenses of the injured person. 

What Is Considered As Personal Injury In California?

Whether you have a claim for personal injuries depends on several factors. For instance, if you are injured on the job, then you would likely file a claim for workers’ compensation rather than hiring a personal injury lawyer. Additionally, your role in the cause of your personal injury is a factor in determining whether you have a claim. For example, if you provoke a dog, and are injured as a result, there is a substantial chance that you will most likely not have a claim. 

Another example of a personal injury would be if a person falls through a faulty railing that they did not know existed, but the homeowner was aware of this and just refused to make the necessary repairs to make it safer for tenants. As a result, the accident victim can file for a personal injury claim to cover their medical expenses. Other common examples of personal injury cases include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Injuries caused by product defects
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Construction site injuries
  • Wrongful death

The Basic Terms Involved With California Personal Injury Law

To shed more clarity on the matter of personal injury law in California, let’s define some of the most commonly used terms in this field. 


Negligence is a legal principle which allows a party to seek compensation when they have been harmed as a result of another party’s failure to abide by a certain level of care. In order to be successful in a negligence action, the plaintiff has the burden to meet the following elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

Some examples include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and workplace accidents. Negligence can also lead to wrongful death cases, such as when a reckless driver causes a fatal car accident.

Duty of Care

This refers to the legal obligation for all of us to adhere to a standard of reasonable care with the goal of preventing any acts that could pose risks to another person and jeopardize their safety. For example, we must be careful whenever we drive a car to avoid colliding with another vehicle on the road or hitting a pedestrian. In workplaces, the organization in charge also possesses the legal obligation to create an environment that promotes the employees’ health, safety, and well-being. 

Breach of Duty

When the duty of care is not followed, this results in a breach of duty. Examples include disobeying traffic laws, or a property owner refusing to resolve the dangerous conditions in their building.


Causation refers to the pieces of evidence that prove that the injuries or suffering that you are filing a claim for are indeed caused as a direct result of the at-fault party’s negligent actions. In tort law, there are two elements of causation: factual or actual cause and proximate cause. 


Damages refer to the monetary compensation that injured victims will receive for the losses and injuries they have sustained due to another party’s wrongful conduct. There are three types of damages: general, special, and punitive. A personal injury attorney can help you calculate damages, particularly for general or non-economic damages that do not have straightforward monetary values. 

What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Personal Injury Cases In California?

The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit after the accident or injury. It helps to know the statute of limitations in California as this varies per state, and so that you will be made aware of how urgently you should act following an injury.

Do note that the statute of limitations begins from the date of the injury or the date it was discovered. 

In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 2 years from the occurrence of the injury. If the injury is not discovered immediately, then it is 1 year after its discovery.

What Damages Can Be Recovered In A Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury damages can be largely categorized into two: economic and non-economic.

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to tangible or quantifiable losses. These include:

  • Medical costs (both present and future)
  • Prescription medication
  • Medical devices that assist during the healing period
  • Physical therapy, rehabilitation, and other forms of therapies
  • Lost wages 
  • Loss of earning capacity

Non-Economic Damages

This category includes compensation for non-monetary and subjective losses. These include emotional or psychological harm such as:

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Loss of ability to enjoy various activities
  • Dismemberment or disfigurement
  • Mental anguish 
  • Emotional distress
  • Humiliation
  • Damage to your reputation
  • Worsening of previous injuries
  • Loss of consortium (deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to severe injuries)

Both economic and non-economic damages can be difficult to quantify on your own. A personal injury attorney in California can help you calculate the total damages based on evidence, the duration of your injury, your age and health, and the overall impact of the injury on your quality of life. 

How Much Is My Injury Worth?

It can be challenging to calculate the exact value of the damages and injuries a person sustains because there are so many factors that influence the final amount. This includes fault determination, policy limits, and how clearly you can demonstrate the negative impacts of your injuries.

Comparative Negligence

California is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction which means that if you are found to be partially responsible for your injury, then your settlement amount is going to be reduced depending on your percentage of fault.

Additionally, the insurance coverage limits of the at-fault party also affect the amount you can recover; if your damages exceed those limits, then it can become even more difficult to recover the maximum compensation. As such, it is beneficial to speak with a personal injury lawyer to gain assistance on these matters. 

What Are The Damage Caps On Personal Injury Cases In California?

A damage cap is a limit on how much compensation you can recover for your losses following an injury. It essentially limits how much you can receive as compensation, even if you may have suffered from severe conditions and deserve much more. 

In California, there is no limitation on the amount of compensation that may be awarded to you. The state does not impose statutory limits on the monetary value of your pain and suffering. However, there is a non-economic damages cap in medical malpractice cases. 

How Can A California Personal Injury Lawyer Help Maximize My Insurance Claim Value?

Most personal injury cases start off by filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider which will then be reviewed by an insurance adjuster. They will then investigate the available evidence, confirm the facts, and present you with a settlement offer. You can expect this offer to be lower than you expected because that’s how these profit-based companies generate income. A personal injury attorney can help you recognize these lowball offers and provide you with guidance on negotiating better terms. Their goal is to fight for a full and fair settlement for you.

Negotiating with an insurance adjuster and their devious tactics can be tiresome, notwithstanding the fact that you should be focused on making a full recovery. They are trained to ask misleading questions that are designed to devalue your claim, skew the evidence presented, or trick you into something that can jeopardize your case. With a personal injury lawyer beside you, you will become more capable of handling the questions of insurance adjusters without compromising yourself. 

Lastly, most personal injury lawyers in California have the power to subpoena critical pieces of evidence that can further support your case. This includes material that is difficult to obtain, such as phone records which can be helpful if you were hit by a driver who was clearly on their phone during the incident. This may also include medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and other relevant documents.

How Can I Book A Free Consultation With A Personal Injury Lawyer In California?

There is no reason for you to suffer through life-altering accidents just because of the poor decisions of someone else. You do not have to suffer financially as you recover from injuries that were inflicted upon you. Hiring a personal injury attorney helps you create compelling legal claims so that you can receive the financial support that you need in these trying times.

Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer for a case review. To offer our clients peace of mind, we have a “No Recovery, No Fee” policy in place which means that we do not require payment unless we have won the case. Please note that you will still be required to cover your subrogations and medical bills that resulted from the injury.