Recently, the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC)—a business interest group that supports defense-side civil law reforms—took the initial steps needed to get two ballot measures before voters in the November 2022 election. According to a report from the California Globe, the CJAC is pushing a strict pre-lawsuit notice requirement and a tight cap on contingency fee arrangements.
If they become law in California, both measures could make the personal injury claims process more challenging for victims and their families. In this article, our Stockton personal injury lawyers provide an overview of the proposed ballot initiative and explain why the business interest group’s reform effort would be bad for injured victims.
An Overview of the CJAC’s Proposed Ballot Initiatives
In early October of 2021, the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) submitted two proposed ballot measures to the Office of the Attorney General of California. By doing so, the organization took the first required steps needed to get these proposed measures on the state’s 2022 general election ballot. Here are the key things to know about the proposed reforms:
Ballot Initiative #1
A Strict Pre-Suit Notice Requirement: The first of the two proposed ballot measures would create a new pre-lawsuit notice requirement. In effect, the ballot initiative would create a mandatory 60-day window during which an injured victim would be required to notify the defendant and attempt to reach a settlement outside of litigation. The ballot measure is officially known as the “Pre-Lawsuit Notice and Opportunity to Settle Act.”
The Downside for Injured Victims: While there are certainly some benefits to resolving a case outside of litigation, the ballot measure only creates new obligations on plaintiffs (injured victims). The vast majority of personal injury cases are already settled outside of litigation. The ballot initiative simply adds another pre-suit notification requirement for victims and makes them wait longer before they can file a claim.
Ballot Initiative #2
A Tight Cap on Contingency Fees: The second proposed ballot measure is known as the “California Consumer Legal Fee Protection Act.” In effect, the initiative seeks to limit the contingency fees that can be charged by plaintiffs’ attorneys at 20 percent.
The Downside for Injured Victims: Most personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. Injured victims are not required to pay upfront costs or out-of-pocket fees when they hire a lawyer who can work on contingency. A 20 percent cap is significantly lower than the cap that exists in other jurisdictions. If passed into law, it would actually make it more difficult for many people to find any personal injury lawyer to handle their case on contingency. Defense-side business interest groups support this ballot measure because it means fewer people would be able to hire an attorney for their personal injury case.