California has one of the most comprehensive ballot initiative systems in the country. Measures can be placed on the ballot for a direct vote by the California State Legislature or through a petition signed by a sufficient number of registered voters.
Corporate interests planned for ballot measures in November 2022 to severely impact the rights of injured victims.
In the Fall of 2021, the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) — a business advocacy group allegedly devoted to civil liability reform, but really designed to stopgap the liability of businesses for causing accidents and injuries — started a process to add two initiatives to the 2022 ballot.
Both proposed ballot measures were designed to be hostile to consumers injured by the fault of others. Here, our San Jose personal injury lawyers explain what happened.
Proposed Anti-Consumer Ballot Measures that Failed
The name “ Civil Justice Association of California” is deceptive. It is an anti-consumer pro- business interest advocacy group. The CJAC describes itself as an organization that “the business community counts on” in order to “hold the line on a barrage of legislation containing litigation threats aimed at California businesses.” It struggled to place on the ballot two measures that would make California’s personal injury claims process fundamentally impossible for injured victims and their families. Thankfully the effort failed, but here is what the villains had in mind.
Pre-Lawsuit Notice and Opportunity to Settle Act: With this ballot measure, the CJAC is pushing a new statute that would require injured victims to provide “notice” to a defendant and wait through a 60-day settlement period before they have the right to initiate a lawsuit. Reaching a full and fair settlement is generally the best result for an injured victim, but the effect of this ballot measure is to erect another hurdle in the personal injury claims process. In reality attorneys routinely give notice to defendants of claims that will be brought and invite claims representatives to explore settlement.
California Consumer Legal Fee Protection Act: Most personal injury claims are handled on a contingency fee basis. Instead of paying upfront fees and/or hourly bills, victims retain a lawyer on contingency. The plaintiff’s attorney is paid legal fees as a portion of the ultimate settlement or verdict. The CJAC wants to impose a strict 20 percent cap on contingency fee agreements. This is outrageously below what attorneys across the United State charge and was solely intended to make it impossible for injured victims to find legal representation on a contingency fee basis after a serious accident. Limiting attorneys’ fees was the goal of the California Medical Insurance Compensation Reform Act passed in 1976 and it worked. That law so drastically limited attorneys’ fees that many lawyers decided to focus on other areas of practice. That bogus “reform” will come to an end starting in January 2023 with approval of a one-third contingency fee in California medical malpractice cases.
California’s Ballot Initiative System
The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) submitted its proposal for both ballot measures to the California Attorney General. This step is required to get any initiative or referendum on the statewide ballot. The California Attorney General task is to review the proposal, create a descriptive title, and craft a neutral summary of the proposed ballot measure. Once that occurs, the ballot measures would be returned to the CJAC.
CJAC would have to then obtain signatures from a sufficient number of California voters to actually qualify for the November 2022 ballot. According to Ballotpedia, the California Secretary of State has determined that 623,212 valid signatures are required to get an initiated state statute (ISS) on the ballot in 2022.
CJAC abandoned paying people to solicit signatures on its ballot measures in January 2022.
Get Help From a Personal Injury Attorney in San Jose
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.