California Tort Law
What Is Tort Law?
Tort laws govern violations involving harm, injury, or loss caused by one person to another. Some common types of lawsuits that are covered by tort law include: personal injury suits, property violations, and cases involving privacy rights.
Civil tort law is different from criminal law in that jail or prison time may not be imposed in a tort case. Instead, the liable party (the tortfeasor) will usually have to pay the victim monetary damages for their losses. Or, a judge may order the tortfeasor to stop doing their tortious actions.
The tort laws in every state may vary with respects to different aspects of trial, including jury guidelines, procedural matters, evidentiary hearings, liability and defenses, and damage awards.
Is California Tort Law unique in any ways?
The tort laws of the state of California have several aspects that differ from federal laws and the laws of other states. Some tort laws that may be unique to California include:
- California Tort Claims Act: California has a law that allows tort lawsuits against a government entity. The party filing against the state must usually give written notice of a claim 6 months in advance of filing the actual suit.
- Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA): This act places a cap (limit) on the amount of monetary damages that a plaintiff may obtain for medical injuries. Other California tort laws may also limit the amount of damages for other types of claims.
- Evidence Guidelines: In the last decade, California has introduced a number of changes to its guidelines regarding the use of evidence in court. These changes are often called “California Evidence Distinctions”, as they are distinct from federal evidence guidelines. The evidentiary changes cover a wide range of tort aspects.
- “Reckless Misconduct” Provisions: Most states classify tort violations as either an intentional act or negligence (unintentional or breach of duty) or intentional acts. California includes a third category of liability, “reckless misconduct”. Reckless misconduct is basically a willful disregard of the rights or safety of others. The addition of this intermediate, hybrid category may often allow for a much higher amount of monetary recovery than a standard negligence claim.
California tort laws may also contain other provisions not found in either federal laws or other state laws. Some of these may be quite complex and may require an attorney to interpret them. Also, the changes to the area of evidence mentioned above are particularly complicated and are best approached through the expertise of a lawyer.
Do I need a California Lawyer for Tort Laws?
California’s tort laws are constantly being revised due tort reform policies. If you have questions regarding a tort law, you may wish to consult with a California lawyer for clarification. An experienced California attorney will be able to assist you with your tort claim and provide you with much-needed advice.
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Last Modified: 02-18-2014 02:42 PM PST
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