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What Does California’s SB 447 Mean for Plaintiffs Seeking Damages?

The desk of a lawyer empty while he is on a plaintiff case

A bill signed into law last year, SB 447, changed who can receive damages in California after a personal injury lawsuit. The new law brings California in line with many other states across the country, ensuring that injury victims and their loved ones receive the compensation that they deserve after an accident. At the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz, our experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys are prepared to assist with every step of your personal injury case. To learn more, call or contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Compensation in Personal Injury Cases

Damages in a personal injury case in California include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages compensate a victim for their out of pocket expenses after an accident, including the following:

  • Medical bills,
  • Lost wages,
  • Property damage, and
  • Loss of future income and earning potential

Noneconomic damages compensate victims for the less tangible harms that come with injuries after an accident, including:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Disability,
  • Disfigurement, and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

What is SB 447?

Prior to the signing of this new law, the California Civil Code provided a survival statute which stated that a cause of action for personal injury is not lost because of the victim’s death. Another section of the state code allowed for the victim’s personal representative or loved ones to collect compensation for the personal injury action but specifically excluded their ability to collect noneconomic damages that the injury victim would have been entitled to had they lived. When a personal injury victim dies before collecting compensation for their injuries, their estate and heirs collect the damages instead. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this could mean that a spouse, children, parents, or other relatives collect compensation on behalf of their loved one.

Under the new law, SB 447, the courts in personal injury cases are now allowed to award noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and disfigurement damages even if the victim passes away and the family must take up the case in their stead.

It is important to note that this new law currently has a time limit on its operation. The collection of noneconomic damages for pain and suffering and disfigurement is only allowed if one of the following situations applies: 

  • Prior to January 1, 2022: A specified preference was given, where the victim was either over 70 years old and in poor health or under the age of 14, or
  • The case is filed between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2025.

Because SB 447 is currently only set to last for three years, it is critical that families of loved ones lost to accidents file their cases as soon as possible with the courts. To learn more, talk to our office today.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Pasadena

If you have tragically lost a loved one in the Pasadena area, let the skilled and compassionate personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz help you get the full and fair compensation that you deserve. Call or contact our office today.

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