There are several new laws coming out of the 2021 legislative cycle that will impact personal injury lawyers and their clients. Police and custodial officers have lost immunity against claims for malicious prosecution, and heirs in a survival action can now recover for the decedent’s pain, suffering, and disfigurement. Other developments include the easing of government claim presentation requirements.
The Bane Act is California’s most broadly applicable civil rights law—the state counterpart to the federal civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As of January 1, 2022, for the first time in California history, people will be able to bring claims under California law against police and custodial officers for malicious prosecution or for injuries to prisoners. Changes to the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code, § 52.1) will remove immunities to such claims brought under the Act.
Effective Jan. 1, 2022 to Jan. 1, 2026, Code of Civil Procedure section 377.2 was amended (SB 447) to allow for the recovery of the decedent’s pain, suffering and disfigurement. Traditionally, such damages were not recoverable as compensatory damages in a survival action; however, the decedent’s emotional distress could be considered for purposes of punitive damages. Rubio v. CIA Wheel Group (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 82, 91-94.
Several statutory changes taking effect on January 1, 2022 will impact personal injury lawyers in California. Key changes include: (1) easing of government claim presentation requirements (SB 501) and (2) no claim requirement in cases of sexual assault by a police officer (AB 1455).