Updated: Dec 27, 2022
What is covered under California Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury cases are filed whenever one party injures or physically harms another, in most cases due to a failure to act with reasonable care or caution in a given situation. Any personal injury case will have its own set of variables, and it is difficult to foresee how each individual will deal with a personal injury claim.
Even though each personal injury case is special, there are a few common threads that claimants must be aware of. These cases are civil claims forwarded after a plaintiff or victim is injured or suffers damage as a third party's negligence.
Negligence, in this context, is defined as the failure of one party to uphold a duty of care in a specific situation, and it is a key component of any personal injury lawsuit. Usually, the negligent party's insurance company will pay the victim's pain and suffering, medical bills, and ongoing medical expenses.
What Counts as a Personal Injury Case?
If you were injured or harmed due to someone else's negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing, you might be able to file a lawsuit. However, in most cases, these lawsuits are the best option for "catastrophic injuries," or injuries that permanently alter a person's ability to live and function normally. The majority of these injuries are disabling or disfiguring in nature.
The most common catastrophic injuries include:
Traumatic brain injury(TBI)
Spinal cord injury
Victims of such serious injuries may experience varying degrees of paralysis, reduced cognitive functions, physical impairments, and chronic pain. Catastrophic injuries will leave you with mental, physical, and financial problems for the rest of your life.
Typically, these kinds of injuries prevent a person from returning to work for an extended time or entirely prevent the victim from ever working again, necessitating specialized care for the rest of their lives. This can put you in a lot of financial trouble, particularly considering the high medical costs of treating severe and life-altering injuries.
A personal injury case has ramifications for the victim's entire family. Victims and their families must bear medical expenses and other hidden costs of a personal injury. This would include the injured person's lost income and a family member who becomes a caregiver. Home and car modifications, as well as travel to hospitals and specialists, can be costly. Personal injury victims often suffer long-term emotional and psychological damages that are more difficult to quantify.
What Are the Usual Causes of Catastrophic Injuries?
Accidents involving buses. Many passengers have suffered serious injuries and even death due to bus crashes. Many schools or tour buses still lack seatbelts, and the vast space inside a bus allows people to be thrown around and seriously injured in a bus accident. Buses have also been known to catch fire after colliding.
Train accidents. Few trains, like buses, are equipped with seat belts, which means that if an accident happens, there is a high risk of serious injury or wrongful death. Because most trains travel at high speeds, a train crash can be particularly devastating to passengers, resulting in many devastating injuries.
Accidents involving trucks. The consequences can be severe when a semi-truck collides with a passenger vehicle. Hundreds of people are killed or injured in truck accidents every year. These larger vehicles take longer to stop and weigh several times more than personal cars, making them particularly dangerous to passengers in smaller vehicles in the event of an accident.
Pharmaceutical incidents and defective medical devices. Certain drugs may be prescribed in untested, inappropriate, or off-label ways, resulting in congenital disabilities, painful side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and various other undesirable consequences. Medical devices, which are frequently used in surgeries, may also be used incorrectly or off-label.
Accidents involving planes or helicopters. When an airplane or helicopter crashes, catastrophic injuries or wrongful death are almost always the results. Those who survive a major aviation crash are likely to suffer from brain injuries, spinal injuries, dismemberment, burns, and nerve injuries. Regardless of whether the injuries were sustained while flying with a major airline, a small private aircraft, or a helicopter, many aviation crash survivors need lifelong support and care in our experience.
More Common, Everyday Vehicular Road Accidents
While catastrophic injuries are unfortunately happening more frequently than we might think, most Personal Injury attorneys handle road accidents. The cases range from car collisions, bike accidents, and motorcycle accidents. The circumstances may not be as tragic, but they still result to physical harm. Most of these cases are still linked back to negligence.
Does it Include Pedestrian Injury?
Yes. Pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries, so compensation is usually substantial. A catastrophic injury, such as brain damage or paralysis, may necessitate compensation to cover the cost of specialized care for the rest of one's life.
Even when injuries aren't life-threatening, pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries, such as:
Puncture and lacerations wounds
Injuries to the knees, ankles, hips, elbows, and wrists
Injuries to the back, neck, and shoulders
Injuries to the soft tissues (torn ligaments and tendons)
Payable damages should cover the victim's wage loss, loss of future earning capacity, and the cost of coping with the injury, in addition to past and future medical costs. A pedestrian accident claim settlement should also include compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Should I pursue legal action?
Definitely. Considering the monetary, physical, and emotional damages it has cost you, it only makes sense to seek compensation for all the troubles that third-party carelessness has cost you. However, pursuing a complaint on your own is difficult, and those who have caused you inconvenience will surely seek to diminish their responsibility.
Going to the person or firm responsible for your injury might end in a private settlement that isn't tantamount to the difficulty this has put you through.
Personal injury lawsuits can be stressful and overwhelming, particularly when the law is unclear or the legal issues are confusing. As a result, if you've been hurt in an accident and want to file a lawsuit, you should strongly consider hiring a Personal Injury Attorneys in Los Angeles before proceeding.
An experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer will be familiar with the law and the various legal issues in such cases. Your Personal Injury Lawyers In Los Angeles can also make estimated predictions of the chances of your case being successful and the kinds of damages you will receive if you win.
Additionally, your Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer will discuss other legal options with you, assist you in making an informed decision, and decide whether or not to proceed with a trial. Your Top Personal Injury Attorneys In Los Angeles will also represent you in court if you decide to proceed with a trial.
Can I make a strong personal injury case in California?
Personal injury laws in California are very straightforward. Understanding the fundamentals of negligence under California state laws can be useful, whether you face a large medical bill after a motorcycle accident or merely need help understanding your workers' compensation options.
When you've been seriously injured, you may not know where to start regarding acquiring fair compensation for your medical bills, lost jobs, disabilities, and other expenses. However, if your injuries were caused directly by the negligence of another person or organization, you may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and hold them liable for your losses.
The failure to use reasonable caution is how the main principle in defining "negligence". A plaintiff or a victim and their Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles, California must show that the defendant in the claim was negligent in some way that directly caused the plaintiff's claimed damages to win a personal injury lawsuit. It's critical to pinpoint the duty of care violation and provide a detailed breakdown of all damages incurred due to the violation.
Proving the other parties' liability in the case is one of the most important aspects of obtaining maximum compensation for your claim. Most accident and injury cases will hinge on proving the other party's negligence.
As you begin to develop your personal injury claim, your California Attorney for Personal Injury can inform you of any factors in your case that may make the legal process more difficult. Unpredictable liability among multiple parties and comparative negligence are two of the most common issues that personal injury plaintiffs face in California.
What if there are multiple defendants?
It's not unusual for multiple parties to be held responsible for a personal injury plaintiff's claimed damages. The plaintiff and their Personal Injury attorney must show that each defendant named in the lawsuit is partially responsible for the damages claimed.
While this may make settlement negotiations more difficult and necessitate more thorough evidence gathering, the court will usually determine how much each named defendant is responsible for the plaintiff's damages.
Your Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer will tell you how each defendant in your case will be held accountable for their part in the accident. If your case goes to trial and the judge finds that the defendants are all guilty or responsible at different levels, the defendants are responsible for the plaintiff's compensation in proportion. Defendants usually negotiate amongst themselves to determine their fault percentages during settlement negotiations.
Comparative negligence in California law
In a California personal injury case, comparative negligence may play a role. The term "comparative negligence" describes cases in which plaintiffs are partly to blame for the damages they claim to have suffered.
This is a common occurrence in car accident cases. A plaintiff files a claim only for the defendant to contest liability and even present evidence that the plaintiff or accuser is partly to blame for the problem. Comparative negligence laws can influence the amount a plaintiff receives from a successful personal injury claim.
California maintains a pure comparative negligence law, which means that a plaintiff can still seek compensation for damages they contributed to, and there is no threshold for award denial.
Many states have amended comparative negligence laws that prevent plaintiffs from receiving awards if their fault exceeds half of the calculated damages, but California does not have such a limit. The plaintiff only loses a portion of the case award proportional to their percentage of fault.
If the plaintiff or accuser is found to be partially responsible for the damages they have sought in a personal injury case, they should expect to lose a portion of the award.
What are the potential payable damages I can claim?
When it comes to claims of personal injury in California, there are two types of compensation: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are monetary losses. Some would describe it as out-of-pocket' expenses. These may include the following:
Medical bills for treating the injuries (whether you pay them, your insurance company pays them, or they are billed on a lien) (experts will need to calculate what may be needed for long-term care)
Loss of property
Earning capacity lost
Non-Economic damages are 'more intangible'. It mostly has nothing to do with money or quantifiable wealth, but it's likely to have more grave effects on the person. Sometimes referred to as "Human Losses".
Acquired Physical Disability
Loss of consortium
Loss of enjoyment of life
An Aside: How Do You Prove "Suffering"?
Even the most severe injuries necessitate evidence of pain and suffering. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
The injured party can always testify about their pain, how often and how intense it was, and so on.
The doctor and family and friends will testify about what they saw in terms of the injured party's suffering.
Evidence that the injured party sought treatment for their pain and suffering is instrumental in court and during settlement negotiations.
There are no set criteria, except that the pain and suffering damages awarded must be proportional. The jury is told that there is no set standard and that they must decide "a fair amount based on the evidence and your common sense" under Jury Instruction CACI 3905A.
As a result, there is no convoluted legal standard in place; all that matters is it's fair. The question then becomes how your Personal Injury Lawyers In Los Angeles can defend what is fair. Certain methods have been used in the past, but the lack of a real guideline is always emphasized. The California legislature has decided that the people of the state should decide what is fair and what is not.
Here's how 'suffering' can be argued as quantifiable payable damages:
Requesting compensation for each day of suffering that has occurred or will occur. This method is the most straightforward. There are no days off for the injured person. Because the injury occurs on a daily basis, the damages should reflect this.
Victims pay to prevent suffering on a monthly basis. There's something for everyone, whether it's Novocaine at the dentist's office or soap/shaving cream while shaving. We expend money to prevent physical and emotional pain. The cost of severe pain is going to be high. Adjacent to this, a lawyer may ask the jury to decide how much they would charge to endure the pain and suffering you've described.
Given the medical industry's exorbitant prices for years, it's no surprise that a jury thinks a large damages award for pain and suffering is fair and adequate. All of the above arguments may be persuasive. Still, the jury will ultimately decide the amount of the pain and suffering award, with the only criterion being fair.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are a type of damages awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury case that exceeds the number of actual damages awarded. These damages are usually awarded at the court's discretion and are meant to punish a defendant whose actions are especially heinous or shocking.
This type of payable damage is uncommon but not impossible. Civil Code Section 3294 requires evidence that the defendant or at-fault party acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.
Punitive damages may also be awarded as a deterrent to a defendant from acting in the same way again in the future.
A court may, for example, award punitive damages to a business whose actions were highly careless, threatened many customers, and could have been avoided. This can happen when a company fails to supervise a product's manufacturing process or knowingly releases a defective product into the marketplace despite its illegal nature or the possibility that using it will result in serious injuries.
On the other hand, many states limit the number of punitive damages a plaintiff may receive in a personal injury case. These limitations are referred to as "damage caps." Damage caps are usually regulated by state law.
To be eligible for punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit in California, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant's actions constituted fraud, oppression, or malice. The "clear and convincing evidence" standard is the standard of proof that a plaintiff must meet in these circumstances. The standard for obtaining punitive damages is much more difficult to meet than the standard for obtaining actual damages, based on which side has weightier evidence.
Finally, unlike many other states, California does not limit the number of punitive damages awarded in a personal injury case. However, punitive damages must reasonably correspond to compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff in such cases, according to the Due Process Clause and Supreme Court precedent.
As a result, all punitive damages awards in California must at the very least be proportional to the real amount of damages in personal injury cases.
Considerations and Caveats for Punitive Damages
Punitive Damages are not available on their own. The plaintiff must have suffered some "real damage." As a result, before punitive damages can be awarded, some other damages must be awarded, whether compensatory or nominal.
The court must take the defendant's net worth into account. However, higher bodies will not consider the defendant's fortune until the jury has made an initial decision on whether the plaintiff has proved oppression, malice, or fraud through clear and compelling evidence. The number of punitive damages can then be determined using evidence of the defendant's fortune.
The jury will also be told that punitive damages should bear a "fair relationship" to the actual injury, but any ratio will not bind the jury. It's a question of what the jury considers fair once more.
Punitive damages are frequently used as a scapegoat by proponents of "tort reform" to justify absurd awards. This has been propaganda since the "tort reform" movement began. Punitive damages are difficult to obtain, as shown above. The underlying behavior must be objectively horrible.
Once oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious behavior has been established, the question becomes how we, as a society, discourage that behavior. Unfortunately, many wrongdoers are not brought to justice in criminal court. The only place where they can be convicted is in civil court.
Wealthier Wrong-doers Might Get Away With Things
As mentioned above, monetary penalties are the only way to deter the wrongdoer from acting out again and others from watching the case. Punitive damages would become a cost of doing business for unscrupulous businesses or individuals if there were a cap on how much they could be. It is the only way to get the message across when you take a significant part of their profits.
As a result, when the defendant is wealthy, whether a company or an individual, the punitive damage award should be high to represent that fact. The higher the punitive damages award, the more it represents the defendant's fortune rather than the victims' alleged greed.
How much can I recover?
After being involved in an accident, you now know what kinds of damages you are entitled to recover. The next question is how much money you will get back. To put it another way, how much is your case worth?
There is no set way to calculate this properly. Each case is unique because of each client. The injuries you suffer and how you recover will not be the same as the injuries and recovery of others. As a result, each case must be assessed on its own merits.
The insurance company for the at-fault party may contact you and offer a fast settlement. If this happens, proceed with caution. If you have minor injuries and want to accept the offer, make sure the settlement covers at least the following expenses:
1. Medical treatment
Immediate treatment at the scene of the accident and future treatment, physical therapy, and so on. The plaintiff must demonstrate that any medical costs claimed are reasonable compared to the cost and necessity of the treatments they underwent.
The plaintiff can prove this in court with proper documentation of the medical bills. The plaintiff can prove the treatment's necessity through witness testimony, preferably the treating physician's testimony, but an expert witness can testify to the treatment's necessity if they are unavailable.
To be entitled to compensation for future medical expenses, the plaintiff must show that the following medical expenses were incurred:
They are reasonably priced
Proven and deemed as a necessity
With medical evidence that the plaintiff will require it in the future.
Medical expert testimony will be required to demonstrate this evidence in court. It does not have to come from the treating physician; an economist, for example, will attest to the cost aspect of the analysis. However, medical expert testimony will be required to justify future medical expenses.
Medical expenses paid through private insurance may be recovered as damages in California. To put it another way, medical expenses do not exclusively consist of monetary costs. The costs incurred by the plaintiff's insurance can be claimed as special, economic damages.
As a result, plaintiffs are entitled to medical expenses that they:
the insurer paid
are still owed to them.
2. Wages and Earnings lost
Were you unable to work as a result of your injury? Any wages, commissions, bonuses, or other financial earnings or fringe benefits that would have been received if the injury had not occurred are included in the loss of earnings. Those who have been historically employed will be entitled to recover any earnings lost or lost as a result of their absence from work.
Pay stubs, W-2 forms, and other documents are usually required as evidence of lost earnings. Testimony from the injured person's colleagues, accountants, or clients can all be used to corroborate the documentation and provide a stronger foundation for the jury's decision.
All of the above that the injured party would have recovered if the injury had not occurred is included in future earnings loss. Benefits, such as social security, are also included for any lost time or years that could have been contributed. It's important to remember that damages aim to put the injured party in the same position as if the injury had never happened.
The standard for proving lost future earnings is similar to the standard for proving future medical expenses: you must show that the future earnings were fairly certain to occur even if the injury did not occur.
The injured must show two things to show the earnings were fairly certain to occur:
How long they will be unable to return to their previous position or work in general?
How much they would have received if the injury had not occurred?
In most cases, a medical expert's testimony will be used to determine how long it will take them to return to their job or any job. They should be able to provide an expert opinion on how long the injury will keep the person from working in general or at the same level as before.
Calculating the Long-term Effects on Your Capacity to Work
Another case is when a victim's capacity to work is severely affected. Put in simpler terms; an individual will be unable to work in general or to the same level as before the injury.
Unless the injured party may testify competently to what they would have received, an economic expert or an expert in the field of employment will be required to determine a fair but tantamount calculation of their earnings.
This analysis considers many factors, including the injured party's actual earnings at the time of the injury, chances of promotion, life expectancy, overall economic patterns, and the economic trends of the profession in which the injured party works.
The injured party is also entitled to recover damages if the injury is so severe that they will not be able to pursue their intended career. Here, the damages amount should reflect the amount that would have been earned, minus the amount the injured party will earn from any alternative employment if that is even a possibility.
An economist's expert witness testimony will be required to prove how much would have been earned. Different factors are considered when deciding whether the injured person intends to pursue a career. Obviously, testimony from witnesses who are familiar with the injured party's plans and how far the injured party has progressed in pursuing those plans is important.
You should also be compensated for the "intangible losses" mentioned earlier. Although it may be in your best interests to settle your case on your own, you should not do so until you are certain you have fully recovered (you won't be able to get anything later if your pain returns) and you have at least spoken with a reputable personal injury lawyer who can give you an honest assessment of whether it is worth hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Los Angeles to represent you.
You are strongly advised not to accept an insurance company's offer to settle if you have more serious injuries or are still suffering from the effects.
What to do in Wrongful Death incidents?
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident with a family member that has caused the death of one or more people, you can proceed with other cases beyond Personal Injury.
In California, you can sue for damages for a Wrongful Death. But only if you're either of the following:
A Spouse or the registered domestic partner of the victim
Children of the victim who are still alive
Any of the victim's grandchildren
If the victim had died without a will and there were no surviving children, brothers, or other relatives who would have inherited from the victim,
The victim's parents and stepchildren, if they were financially dependent on the victim.
A survival action is sometimes filed alongside a personal injury claim if the accident victim did not die instantly. The victim's legal team files a survival lawsuit, and any estate beneficiary is entitled to a share of the payable damages.
The following items are usually included in the survival action's compensation:
A community property interest in future income gained by the victim's spouse
Other financial losses suffered by family members who would have been eligible for financial assistance if the victim had not been killed
Love, companionship, comfort, care, help, protection, affection, culture, and moral support are all taken away from the victim.
The loss of pleasure of sexual intercourse with the victim in the case of a spouse or domestic partner.
The loss of training and guidance that the victim would have provided, particularly in the case of a child.
Between the time of the accident and the time of death, the victim's pain and suffering and economic losses, such as hospital costs and wage loss, are included in survival action compensation.
Are there Damage Caps Under California Law?
In some states, the amount of money a personal injury victim may receive in compensation for their losses is limited. These restrictions are referred to as "damage caps." The amount of money a person may receive for economic damages after an accident in California is unrestricted. Medical bills, lost wages, monetary costs, and other compensatory damages are all covered.
In most personal injury cases, the amount of money a person can be awarded for pain and suffering damages, also known as non-economic damages, is unlimited. However, there is an exception when it comes to medical malpractice claims. In California, pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages are limited to $250,000 in medical malpractice cases. A victim of medical malpractice may receive an unlimited amount of monetary damages.
Are there lawyers who specialize in personal injury?
There are a variety of incidents that can result in a personal injury claim. When a person or corporation is to blame for the accident and injuries, the law states that you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Negotiating with an insurance company or another party can be difficult and tedious.
Due to a lack of experience valuing cases, you may receive a smaller settlement than your crash and injuries warrant. Using the services of a skilled Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer will help ensure that you are adequately compensated.
Personal injury cases can become very complicated and involve a lot of people. Various insurance firms and legal teams are often involved.
Your Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney will cover the following:
Obtaining all incident evidence, including accident reports, photos and video, eyewitness testimony, and more.
If the case involves a corporation or another entity, obtaining safety records is necessary.
Ascertaining that a qualified medical expert reviews your medical records.
Calculating your total losses with the help of medical and economic experts.
Negotiating with the insurance company and other parties to reach a fair settlement or, if necessary, taking your case to trial to ensure you are properly compensated.
Attorney's fees must be paid in any personal injury case. Before beginning the settlement or lawsuit process, personal injury lawyer and their clients usually enter into fee agreements. A contingency fee agreement is frequently used in personal injury cases, in which the victim pays the attorney a portion of the final settlement or judgment as compensation. Contingency fees are usually around 33%, but they can be as high as 50%.
Other than compensation for an attorney's time, litigation costs are expenses incurred during the course of litigation or settlement. They may include the following:
Costs of court filings
Costs of any research, report, or analysis required for the case
Jury and witness fees
Expert witness fees
Find A California Personal Injury Attorney for Vehicular Accident Cases
What would you do when you find yourself in an unfortunate accident? The best thing to do after an accident is to contact a legal team immediately. It will save you from agreeing to unfair compensation during your recovery process.
1000Attorneys.com offers you a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to Top Rated Personal Injury Attorneys in Los Angeles.