How Serious Does an Injury Have to Be to File an Injury Claim in California?

Have you been injured in California? If your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and other accident losses. You would usually recover your damages by filing an insurance claim with the negligent party’s insurer.

However, injuries can range in severity. You might wonder how severe your injury must be to justify filing an injury claim.

This is a complex topic. Keep reading to get a better sense of whether your injury is serious enough to warrant pursuing compensation from a negligent party.

California Personal Injury Claims & Injury Severity

Some states are no-fault states. In no-fault states, injury victims usually file insurance claims with their own insurance after certain types of accidents (typically car accidents). They do not file their claim against the negligent party’s insurer initially. However, they may be able to file a separate claim against the negligent party if their damages exceed their personal insurance limits or if they’ve suffered severe injuries.

California is an at-fault state — not a no-fault state. When you’re injured in an accident, you can seek compensation by filing a claim to collect from the at-fault party’s insurance. Alternatively, you might file a personal injury lawsuit, especially if the negligent party’s insurer refuses to offer fair compensation for your losses.

Insurers of negligent parties may be responsible for providing victims with compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. However, victims primarily seek compensation for their economic losses. These represent one’s financial losses after an accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Economic damages also cover the future costs of your injury, including future anticipated medical treatment and diminished earning capacity.

Thus, if you suffered financial losses after your accident, you can usually justify filing a personal injury claim in California. However, in certain instances, your damages might be reduced if you share fault for the accident.

Comparative Fault in California

California has a pure comparative fault law to deal with accidents that involve more than one negligent party. Under this rule, a victim can file a claim or lawsuit to pursue compensation for their injuries — even if their own negligence contributed to the accident. 

However, the victim’s damages may be reduced to account for their percentage of blame. For example, suppose you were in a car accident and suffered $10,000. However, a jury found you to be 20% at fault for the accident. In this case, the most you could recover would be $8,000 (80%).

It’s also worth noting that California puts caps on the amount of compensation a victim can recover for certain injuries. For instance, in medical malpractice cases, the most a victim can recover for non-economic damages is $250,000.

Understanding when you can file a personal injury claim in California requires some legal expertise. If you’re unsure whether you have grounds to file a claim or lawsuit, consult a personal injury attorney. They can investigate your claim to gather evidence and locate liable parties. They can also help you calculate your damages related to the accident, sometimes with the help of experts. 

Hiring an attorney is the best way to determine whether you should file a claim or lawsuit after your injury. Contact one today for legal advice.