The Effect of the California Budget Crisis on Personal Injury Cases
Until recently, personal injury victims unable to settle their claims would file a lawsuit in the local jurisdiction – Torrance, Santa Monica, Long Beach, etc. – where the accident occurred. Due to California’s budget crisis the Courts have consolidated all personal injury cases in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to the inconvenience this poses to the victims of personal injury accidents, the consolidation of all cases in one location has delayed court dates. Trial dates are now about eighteen (18) months after a case is filed.
What Does this Mean for Personal Injury Victims?
Before this change went into effect, personal injury victims knew right away which Judge was assigned to his or her case, and in which venue the case would be heard. Knowing which Judge would be presiding was beneficial because it gave the the personal injury attorney ten (10) days to research the Judge and decide if that was the Judge the attorney wanted on the case. If not, the attorney had the ability to file a CCP 170.6 peremptory challenge to get that Judge off the case.
Under the new rules, victims and their attorneys have no idea who the Judge will be until they show up for trial. On that day, about 18 months after the complaint was filed, the case is assigned to whichever Judge in L.A. County has an empty Courtroom. There is then only ten (10) MINUTES, rather than ten (10) days, to research the Judge and determine if he or she is the right Judge for the case.
In addition to having to wait to find out who the Judge on the case will be, the venue where the case will be tried is also unknown until the day of trial. Certain venues have a reputation for being either friendly or not friendly to plaintiffs. Torrance and Van Nuys, for instance, are both Jurisdictions that have historically been unfriendly to plaintiffs, from a Juror perspective. There is little the personal injury attorney can do about the venue where the case is assigned. There is only one (1) peremptory challenge and that is for a Judge, not for a venue.
The good news for plaintiffs with regard to the Court Consolidation Plan is that cases are almost never continued. When the plaintiff and his or her attorney show up downtown on the date scheduled for Trial, they can be assured the Court will find an empty Courtroom for them somewhere in Los Angeles County. It may not be in the jurisdiction they want, or before the Jurist of choice, but they need to be ready to start picking a Jury because the Trial will start, absent an excellent reason for delay.
The bottom line is that it is more important than ever for a personal injury attorney to be prepared for all contingencies and to have the requisite resources at his/her fingertips when showing up for Trial because otherwise, the wrong Judge in the wrong venue could be a death knell for the plaintiff.
Contact an Experienced Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney
My law practice exclusively represents personal injury victims and does so with a deep understanding of their suffering and an absolute commitment to their recovery. I take your injuries personally, and that is why I directly handle all aspects of every case to ensure that you receive maximum compensation.
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