New Legislation To Benefit All California Citizens

Through the hard work of the statewide consumer attorneys’ organization, a group with which Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, proudly supports and participates, new legislation was recently signed by Governor Davis that will benefit all Californians in general, and the victims of the September 11, 2001, tragedies in particular.  This legislation bore the title SB 688.

First, this legislation changes the statute of limitations for personal injury actions from one year to two.  The statute of limitations governs when a lawsuit can be filed, and California’s one year statute was the lowest in the country, and it stood in stark contrast to the two and three statutes of limitations in effect in our neighboring states.  By allowing more time for cases to resolve informally, the total volume of filed litigation will decrease, which will lower the costs of the legal system.  This change will apply to all injuries suffered after January 1, 2003, but will have immediate effect for those claiming injuries as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Second, the time in which motions for summary judgment must be filed has been extended from 28 days before trial to 75 days.  A motion for summary judgment is, in essence, a request to the court to decide a matter without a trial.  These motions have been used increasingly by large, insurance funded, defense firms to block injured consumers’ access to the courts or, at a minimum, undermine the consumer’s trial preparation by forcing his or her attorney to contend with the motion shortly before trial is scheduled to commence.  Pursuant to this new legislation, consumers will have 61 days to respond to these motions rather than the previous 14 day period, thereby allowing consumers more time to defend the motion and to prepare for trial.

If your local state representative voted for SB 688, thank them.  If he or she did not, you might want to inquire why.