Updated on March 2, 2018
Are California Seniors Entitled to Faster Court Cases? They may be with a California Civil Code.
We all know that California Courts are notoriously slow, especially in large heavily congested places like Los Angeles County and Orange County. As a result, it can often can take years before your trial will be heard before a jury. However, if you or a loved one are over the age of 70 and involved in a lawsuit, there is a Legislature that makes California Seniors Entitled to Faster Court Cases. California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) Section 36 provides a way to speed up your case.
CCP Section 36, is titled, “Motion for preference; party over 70 years of age; party under 14 years of age; medical reasons; interests of justice; time of trial.” It creates a special fast track to trial procedure for parties who the legislature has deemed to need “trial preference.”
Parties that qualify for trial preference are entitled to have their trial date set no more than 120 calendar days from the date that the request for trial preference is granted. In addition, the court is not allowed to delay the case for more than 15 days past the original trial date, and this delay is only allowed if a party is experiencing a physical disability. As a result, once you get a motion for trial preference granted you should be in trial in about four months.
Only certain people qualify for trial preference. In order for Section 36 to apply, the person seeking trial preference must have a substantial interest in the outcome of the case. The most usual qualifying category are people who are over the age of 70. In most cases a grant of trial preference to parties over 70 is almost automatic; although the law says that the health of the party must be such that trial preference is necessary to prevent prejudicing the party’s interest in the litigation.
There are other categories of people who may qualify for trial preference. Parties whose suffer from a medical condition that may cause them to die in the next six months may qualify. Children can get preference too. A party under fourteen years old in a wrongful death or personal injury case may also be entitled to preference in some circumstances.
While this Civil code helps make California seniors entitled to faster court cases, it is still important to consider your decision to ask for trial preference very carefully. It is not appropriate for every case where a party is over the age of 70. 120 days is a very short time to get ready for trial. Often a party will need to ask for discovery requests and take depositions, all of which can be tricky in a limited time situation. You should consult with a lawyer (like the ones at Schorr Law) in order to make your decision.