Personal Injury FAQs.
1. What is the Statute of Limitations on a personal injury claim in California?
Two years from the date of the injury. (California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1)
2. What is the difference between "economic" and "non-economic" damages?
damages are damages related to out-of-pocket expenses you incur as a
result of another person's wrongful conduct. Items such as medical
bills, lost wages, repair bills and rental car costs are all considered
economic damages. Non-economic damages are damages for things such as
pain and suffering that do not result in an actual out-of-pocket
expense. You will sometimes hear attorneys and others refer to damages
as "general damages" and "special damages." Usually, when an attorney
uses these terms general damages refers to non-economic damages and
special damages refers to economic damages.
3. My medical insurance paid my medical bills, do I have to pay the insurance company back when my case settles/is tried?
Usually, yes. If you have medical insurance coverage your insurance
company is likely entitled to reimbursement for any payments it makes on
your behalf for medical treatment resulting from the negligence of a
third party. Depending upon whether your insurance plan is an ERISA
plan, the insurance company's reimbursement may be reduced to account
for your and your attorney's efforts to recover from the third party.
You should consult your attorney regarding the specific reimbursement
rights at issue in your situation.
4. What is loss of consortium?
State of California recognizes the right of an injured person's spouse
to assert a claim for damages arising out of the effect the injuries
have on the relationship between the couple. Although the claim arises
out of the same occurrence as the personal injury claim, the damages are
separate and distinct. Many people equate loss of
consortium with loss of sexual relations, but loss of consortium
encompasses more than just sex. As the California Supreme Court
explained, "consortium includes 'conjugal society, comfort, affection,
and companionship.' An important aspect of consortium is thus the moral support each spouse gives the other through the triumph and despair of life." (Rodriguez v. Bethlehem Steel Corp. (1974) 12 Cal. 3d 382, 405).
5. If I got married after I was injured, does my spouse still have a claim for loss of consortium?
In order to assert a claim for loss of consortium the person asserting
the claim must be able to prove they were married to the injured
plaintiff at the time the injury occurred.
6. I was injured on the job. Am I limited to claiming workers compensation benefits for my injuries?
Not necessarily. If you are hurt at work you may still be able to pursue a claim against a third party whose negligence caused the injury. Any claim against your employer should be pursued through the workers compensation system, though. Also, as with other insurance, your employer's workers compensation insurance carrier will have a lien against any settlement or judgment obtained in any third party action to recover the cost of the benefits provided to you. The amount of the lien may include anticipated future medical costs as well as the cost of benefits actually paid.
7. Will you represent me on my workers compensation claim arising out of the same incident if you accept my personal injury case?
Usually no. We do not practice in the area of workers compensation law and typically refer the client to a workers compensation attorney.