Personal Injury Attorney In California

Understanding Personal Injury Law in California: A Comprehensive Overview

Posted on September 13, 2023

The road to recovery following a personal injury accident can be filled with physical, emotional, and financial challenges. Whether you were involved in an auto accident, suffered a slip and fall, or experienced any other type of personal injury, it’s essential to understand your rights and legal options to recover compensation. 

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Northridge, you should consult with a skilled personal injury attorney at the King Law Firm. We will find the evidence and build a strong case to prove liability of the negligent parties and help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries and losses. 

Photo of an Injured Woman

What Is the Personal Injury Law in California?

Under California law, personal injury is a legal framework that allows individuals who have been injured due to the negligence or wrongful actions of others to recover damages. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the injury.

California Civil Code Section 1708 establishes that every person has a right to be free from personal injuries resulting from the wrongful acts of others. It provides a legal basis for personal injury claims based on negligence, intentional torts, and other wrongful conduct.

Legal Elements to Prove a Personal Injury Claim

To successfully prove a California personal injury lawsuit, you generally need to establish the following key elements.

  • Duty of Care: You must show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. This means that the defendant had a legal obligation to act reasonably and prudently to prevent harm to others.
  • Breach of Duty: You must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act reasonably or by engaging in negligent or wrongful conduct.
  • Causation: You need to establish a direct causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and your injuries.
  • Damages: You must prove that you suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence or wrongful actions.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you prove these under California tort law for a successful resolution of your claim.

How Can an Attorney Help Prove Your Claim

Here are several ways in which an experienced personal injury attorney can build a strong personal injury case and help you pursue a successful personal injury claim in California:

  • Investigation: Personal injury lawyers can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your injury to uncover facts and details that may strengthen your case. This may involve accident scene reconstruction, site visits, or other investigative techniques.
  • Legal Strategy: Your attorney will develop a legal strategy tailored to your specific case. They will assess liability, establish causation, and calculate the full extent of your damages to ensure you are seeking fair compensation.
  • Negotiation: Attorneys are skilled negotiators who can communicate with insurance companies on behalf of accident victims. They can present a compelling case, negotiate for fair settlement, and handle any disputes or challenges that may arise during negotiations.
  • Litigation: If negotiations fail to yield a fair settlement, your attorney can file a lawsuit under California personal injury law and represent you in court. They will build a strong case, gather evidence, question witnesses, and advocate for your rights before a judge and jury.
  • Statute of Limitations Compliance: Attorneys are well-versed in the statute of limitations for personal injury claims. They will ensure that claims for personal injury victims are filed within the applicable time frame to avoid potential dismissal.

Common Types of Personal Injury Claims in Northridge

These are a few common types of personal injury claims in Northridge, CA:

  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Premises liability incidents
  • Product liability cases
  • Medical malpractice claims
  • Wrongful death cases
  • Construction accidents

What Is the Statute Of Limitations for Personal Injury In California?

In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, there are exceptions and variations in specific circumstances, so it’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine the precise deadline for your case.

  • Delayed Discovery of Harmful Acts: In some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if the harmful act that caused the injury was intentionally concealed by the defendant. The clock may start ticking from the date of discovery of the concealment.
  • Government Claims: When pursuing a claim against a government entity, such as a city or county, specific rules and deadlines apply. In Los Angeles, you typically have six months to file an administrative claim before pursuing a lawsuit against a government agency.
  • Continuous Treatment: In medical negligence cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if there is a continuing doctor-patient relationship and the alleged malpractice is related to ongoing treatment.
  • Criminal Proceedings: If the defendant is involved in criminal proceedings related to the same incident that caused the injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the criminal case is resolved.
  • Military Service: If the injured person is on active military duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) may provide extensions for pursuing legal actions during their service and for a period afterward.
  • Minority: If the injured party is a minor at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled until they reach the age of majority. In California, this means that the minor has two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.

How are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated in California?

Personal injury settlements are usually calculated based on several factors and considerations related to the specific circumstances of the case:

  • Medical Expenses: The cost of medical treatment for injuries is an important component. This includes past and future medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, prescription medications, and any necessary medical devices. These fall under economic damages.
  • Lost Wages: If catastrophic injuries resulted in missed work, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. This can include not only current earnings but also future earning capacity if the injuries lead to a permanent disability or reduced earning potential.
  • Property Damage: If your personal property, such as your vehicle, was damaged in the accident, the cost of repairs or replacement may be factored into the settlement.
  • Pain and Suffering: These fall under non-economic damages of a settlement and are often one of the most challenging aspects to calculate. It considers the physical and emotional distress, and pain caused by the injuries. Attorneys may use various methods, including the multiplier method or per diem method, to estimate these damages.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This accounts for the impact of catastrophic injury on your ability to participate in activities, hobbies, and daily life as you did before the accident.
  • Permanent Disabilities: If the bodily injury results in permanent disabilities or disfigurement, additional compensation may be sought to address the long-term impact on your life and well-being.
  • Future Damages: In car accidents where injuries require ongoing medical professionals or result in long-term consequences, future damages, including medical expenses and lost wages, are considered.
  • Liability and Comparative Negligence: The degree to which each party is at fault for the accident can affect the settlement amount. California follows a comparative negligence system, where your compensation may be reduced if you are found partially at fault for the accident.
  • Insurance Policy Limits: The at-fault party’s insurance policy limits can impact the maximum amount of compensation awarded. If the liable party has limited insurance coverage, it may limit the available funds for compensation.
Photo of an Injured Man

Impact of Comparative Negligence on Personal Injury Lawsuits

California follows a “pure comparative negligence” system. Under this system, even if the plaintiff is partially at fault for the accident, they can still seek compensation for their injuries. However, the amount of compensation they receive is reduced by their percentage of fault.

It’s important to note that in California, a plaintiff can still seek compensation as long as their percentage of fault is less than or equal to that of the defendant. The court or jury will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved, including the plaintiff and defendant.

In cases involving multiple defendants, each defendant’s degree of fault is determined separately. The plaintiff’s recovery is then allocated based on each defendant’s respective percentage of fault. An experienced car accident attorney in Northridge can help prove your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure that you receive your rightful compensation through a settlement or, if necessary, a court trial.

How to Maximize Compensation in a Personal Injury Case in California

Here are some of the key steps that can help maximize your compensation:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Your health should be your top priority. Seek prompt medical attention for your injuries and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Proper documentation of your injuries is vital for your case.

Consult with an Experienced Attorney

Hire a leading personal injury lawyer in Northridge with experience in handling cases similar to yours. An attorney can assess the strength of your case, identify the negligent parties and prove their liability, and negotiate with the insurers for maximum damages on your behalf. 

Consider All Available Insurance Coverage

Explore all potential sources of insurance coverage, including underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, and umbrella policies that may provide additional financial compensation.

Engage in Skillful Negotiation

Your attorney will strongly negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company to reach a fair settlement. Skilled negotiation backed by compelling evidence can lead to a more favorable outcome. 

Consider Future Damages

Take into account long-term consequences of your injuries, such as ongoing medical treatment, future medical expenses, and the impact on your earning capacity.

Prepare for Trial

While most personal injury cases are settled out of court, your attorney should be prepared to go to trial if necessary. A willingness to go to trial can sometimes lead to better settlement offers during negotiations.

Avoid Early Settlement Offers

Be cautious about accepting early offers from insurance companies. These offers are often low and may not fully cover your damages. Consult with your attorney before accepting any settlement.

Document Your Recovery

Keep a record of your ongoing medical treatment, doctor’s visits, and any changes in your condition. Medical records and other documentation can help support your claim for future damages. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an attorney for a personal injury lawsuit?

While you can file a lawsuit on your own (pro se), it is always prudent to consult with and hire a qualified personal injury attorney. An attorney can provide legal knowledge, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent your interests effectively.

How long does it take to settle a personal injury lawsuit?

The duration of a personal injury lawsuit can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, the willingness to settle, and court schedules. Some cases settle relatively quickly, while others may take several months or even years. Having an attorney by your side can ensure there are no delays.

What happens during the initial consultation?

During the initial consultation, you’ll discuss the details of your case with the attorney. They will assess the merits of your claim, explain the legal process, and discuss potential strategies for pursuing compensation.

Can I settle my case without going to court?

Yes, many personal injury cases are resolved through settlements negotiated with the defendant’s insurance company. Going to court is often a last resort if a fair settlement cannot be reached.

What if the at-fault party has limited insurance coverage?

If the at-fault party’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your damages, you may explore other options, such as pursuing a claim under your own insurance policy or seeking compensation directly from the defendant.

Choose the Most Results-Driven Personal Injury Law Firm with a Record of Large Settlements and Verdicts

The formidable track record of our experienced personal injury attorneys at the King Law Firm gives us strong negotiating leverage with the defendants. Our attorneys are ready to provide you with legal advice, answer your questions, and represent you aggressively. You can count on us to protect your rights and interests while shielding you from tactics that insurance companies or opposing parties may use to diminish your claim. To set up your free consultation, call 818-886-6300 or reach us online.

Category: Personal Injury