Personal Injury Negligence Claims in California For Car, Motorycle & Other Accident Victoms

by Randy Collins on Dec. 25, 2016

Accident & Injury Personal Injury Accident & Injury  Car Accident Accident & Injury  Wrongful Death 

Summary: In California, a personal injury is an injury to the person caused by another person's negligence. An "injury to the person" almost always refers to a physical injury, although a victim who has been physically injured can also recover compensation for emotional injuries.

In California, a personal injury is an injury to the person caused by another person's negligence. An "injury to the person" almost always refers to a physical injury to the person's body, although a victim who has been physically injured can also recover compensation for emotional injuries, including pain and suffering.

Negligence simply means carelessness. It is a failure to exercise the ordinary care that Californians expect from drivers, doctors, property owners, product manufacturers, and anyone else who might cause harm if they are not careful.

Negligence Claims in California

Personal injury lawyers at The Pew Law Center represent injury victims with regard to all California negligence claims, including:

  • Car crashes. Careless drivers cause accidents for many reasons, including texting when they should be watching the road.
  • Truck accidents. Airbags and other safety devices protect passengers in most collisions, but when a heavy truck runs a red light or crosses the center line, disabling or fatal injuries are the most likely outcome. 
  • Motorcycle accidents. The most common motorcycle collision is caused by a driver making a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
  •  Pedestrian injuries. Drivers who do not pay attention often strike pedestrians, including children, who are crossing the road.
  • Medical malpractice. The failure to diagnose cancer, mistakes made during surgery, and administering the wrong medications are among the medical errors that subject doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers to liability.
  • Slip-and-fall accidents. When stores fail to clean product spills, allow carpeting to become frayed, or create tripping hazards in aisles, customers are at risk of falling due to a slip or trip.
  • Unsafe premises. A homeowner’s uncovered swimming pool, the failure to post warning signs near a hidden cliff, and leaving unexploded fireworks on a lawn where kids can find them are all examples of premises negligence.
  • Defective products. Defective car parts that lead to an accident, toys with detachable parts that cause a child to choke, and appliances that start fires are examples of products that may cause injury due to improper design or manufacture.
  • Defective highway design. The failure to install guardrails and the installation of defective guardrails are among the negligent design flaws that contribute to accident injuries.
  • Dog bites. When a dog bites someone, California law makes the owner strictly responsible for the dog’s behavior, even if the owner did not expect the dog to bite.
  • Industrial accidents. Most on-the-job injuries are covered by worker’s compensation, but victims can also pursue third parties (including equipment manufacturers and subcontractors) when their negligence contributes to the injury.

Injury victims are entitled to pursue compensation when they are harmed by another person's negligence. That right can be lost, however, when the victim waits too long to bring a claim. The time for giving notice of a claim is shorter when a city or other unit of government was responsible for the injury.

Compensation for Personal Injuries in California

Compensation is usually awarded for three kinds of injuries resulting from negligence:

·      Physical injuries. Compensation for physical injuries covers any short or long-term disability or disfigurement the victim experiences. Common accident injuries include:

  Brain injuries

 Spinal injuries

Internal organ damage

Neck and back injuries

Nerve damage

Facial scarring

Limb injuries and amputations

Tendon, muscle, and other soft tissue injuries

Knee injuries

·      Economic injuries. In addition to payment of past and future medical expenses, accident victims are entitled to reimbursement of lost wages and any earnings they will lose in the future as a result of an ongoing disability. The victims of serious injuries may also receive compensation that will pay for vocational rehabilitation, the cost of a nursing assistant, remodeling to make a home wheelchair accessible, and other expenses that will help restore the victim's ability to live a productive life. 

·      Emotional injuries. Every physical injury is accompanied by pain and suffering. Many injuries also lead to anxiety about the victim’s recovery, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of the ability to enjoy intimate relationships, and other forms of mental anguish. Injury victims are entitled to compensation for those emotional losses.

Victims can receive compensation even if they were partially at fault for the accident that caused the injuries. California law allows victims to recover compensation in proportion to the fault of other parties. If another driver was 80% at fault and the victim was 20% at fault, the victim is entitled to recover 80% of full compensation.

Wrongful Death

When an act of negligence produces injuries that cause death, the victim's surviving relatives are entitled to recover wrongful death compensation. The victim's spouse and children always have that right. Other close relatives may also be entitled to pursue compensation, depending on the family's circumstances.

Wrongful death compensation replaces income that the victim would have provided to family members if the victim had lived a full life. Family members are also entitled to compensation for the loss of love and affection that they would have received from the victim.

The victim’s estate is entitled to bring a claim to recover medical and funeral expenses that resulted from the accident. If the victim suffered before dying, the estate is entitled to bring a claim to recover personal injury compensation on the victim's behalf. The victim’s heirs then share that recovery pursuant to the terms of the victim’s will.

Settlement and Litigation of California Personal Injury Claims

Most claims settle out of court, saving personal injury victims from the burden of testifying in trial. Settlements also provide victims with certainty, while the outcome of a jury trial is never known until the jury returns a verdict.

If you were injured, or if a family member died, due to another person's carelessness, you should obtain legal advice immediately. Delay may harm your ability to recover full compensation.

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