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"Serious Injury" Threshold: What You Need to Know

Apr 13, 2017

If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s already confusing and scary enough. Then you start reading about what to do next, and you find yourself confronted by terms like “serious injury threshold” and the limits to compensation you might be able to receive. You don’t even know what this means, and you’re worried about what to do next.

The truth is, this is the last thing about which you should concern yourself. Learn how the serious injury threshold affects a car accident case, and why in California you should hire a car accident lawyer to seek compensation.


In no-fault states, such as Florida, Kansas, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, D.C. and a few others, there are ways which someone can step outside the no-fault system and seek personal injury claims for negligence in car accidents. These limits can vary widely by state, being $10,000 in one state, and $50,000 in another.

The general gist of it is, in such a state you normally file an injury claim against your own insurance company, using no-fault insurance to cover your damages. If your injuries exceed the threshold, however, you can step outside the system and sue the other driver.


However, in California, the serious injury threshold does not apply. California is a fault state, meaning that one driver (or both) is held to be negligent, and this negligence is the determining factor in compensatory damages for an auto accident case involving injuries. However, even in California, there’s a catch, and that’s the degree of fault you may share in the accident.


California operates on a concept of “pure” comparative negligence. What this means is that the state recognizes that a single person isn’t always completely at fault for an incident, but that both parties can share a measure of responsibility. In such cases, the degree to which you share fault can affect the damages you receive.

For example, if your accident is worth $400,000, but it comes out during negotiations, arbitration, mediation or trial that you were in fact 25% responsible for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by that much. Thus, you’d only receive $300,000 of the total damages involved in the case. Likewise, if you were found to be 75% responsible, you’d only receive $100,000 (and this could lead to the other driver pursuing a case against you).


Because California is a comparative fault state, you need all the help you can get in proving that the accident was the result of the other driver’s negligence. This means you’ll need to demonstrate that the other driver acted irresponsibly in such a way that they caused an accident that was the proximate or direct cause of the injuries you suffered.

If you’re in California and you need help pursuing your case, turn to an experienced car accident lawyer at Dunnion Law. We’ve helped California residents pursue injury settlements for over 40 years, and we’re ready to help you as well. Give us a call for a free consultation regarding your case today.


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