California Personal Injury Claims, Injuries, and Lawsuits
UPDATED: March 10, 2020
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Personal injury law is a broad area of law that covers a number of different accidents or injuries. Personal injury cases are most often decided under a body of law called tort law, and within each state, personal injury law is largely governed under "common law," so the rules and regulations can vary by state.
In California, there are two classes of torts that apply to personal injury cases: intentional torts and negligence torts. If someone injures you on purpose, you can sue them for an intentional tort. If someone injures you by accident, you can sue them for a negligence tort. There are also special cases in which a standard called strict liability is applied, which means the person who injures you didn't even have to be negligent to be subject to a lawsuit - they will be automatically liable if you can show you were injured.
California Personal Injury Claims
There are a number of different situations where personal injury law applies and where you may make a personal injury claim to recover your damages. For example, the field of personal injury covers:
- Car accident claims
- Premises liability claims
- Dog bite claims
- Medical malpractice claims
- Nursing home negligence
- Construction injuries
- Railroad accidents
- Boat accidents
- Bike accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Wrongful death
In general, any situation in which someone hurt you on purpose or through carelessness can constitute a personal injury claim.
Proving a California Personal Injury Claim
If you have suffered a personal injury in California, it is a good idea to speak with a California personal injury lawyer to understand what you have to prove. It is important to understand the requirements for a California personal injury claim, since those requirements differ depending on the type of incident. For example:
- In a product liability case where you are injured by a defective product, strict liability may apply. This means you do not have to prove that anyone was negligent. If you used a product as intended and were injured, you can potentially sue the designer, manufacturer, distributor, reseller, or retailer.
- In a dog bite case, California law imposes strict liability on dog owners. This means if you were bit by a dog at a public place or while a guest at someone's home or business, that person is strictly liable for your damages even if they weren't negligent or didn't know the dog was going to bite.
- In a medical malpractice case, you need to prove the doctor behaved negligently and that his standard of care was below that which a reasonable professional would have provided. You are also limited to recovering $250,000 of non-economic damages.
- In a car accident case, you have to prove the other driver was negligent and that his or her negligence led to your injury. A reasonable person standard applies.
- In a slip and fall case, or in a case where you were injured at someone else's home or building, the standard of what you have to prove varies depending on why you were there. If you were an "invitee" - there to do business, for example - you are afforded a higher degree of care under the law than if you were just an invited guest at someone's home for your mutual benefit.
A California injury attorney can provide you with specific information on what you have to prove based on the nature of your injury and claim.
Under the law in California, you can recover damages for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering and emotional distress, depending on the nature of your injury. Some limitations do exist on certain types of cases, such as the $250,000 limit for non-economic injuries for medical malpractice. In addition, under California law, punitive damages are appropriate only if the defendant showed fraud or malice towards you in causing your injuries.
In a wrongful death case under California law, you can also recover any damages that "under all the circumstances of the case, may be just." Typically, in a wrongful death case, you can recover the lost wages and medical bills the deceased victim would have been able to recover had he or she lived. You can also collect personal injury damages for loss of income that the deceased would have brought home, as well as damages for loss of companionship and funeral expenses, among others.
If you have suffered a personal injury in California, a California personal injury attorney can help. The Law Offices of Barry J. Simon can provide you with expert guidance on your California personal injury case. Barry J. Simon has been practicing personal injury since 1979 and has handled all types of cases, from auto accidents to railroad or construction injuries to permanent injury, disfigurement, and wrongful death. Barry J. Simon has helped thousands of victims, and can help you to recover for your own California personal injury damages.