When you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, the law allows you to seek compensation for your injuries. Whether you were injured as the driver of a vehicle or a passenger, it’s highly likely that any case that you file will be brought under the law of negligence.
Proof of negligence
In order to prove negligence, you’re required to prove its elements. If you fail to prove any single one of its elements, your case fails in its entirety. Those elements are that:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care
- He or she breached that duty
- The breach of that duty caused the crash
- The crash was the proximate cause of your injuries
- You suffered legally recognized damages
Proving those elements is a highly complicated endeavor. Only highly skilled personal injury lawyers are capable of presenting adequate proof of them.
Once we’ve overcome proving the negligence elements hurdles for you, the law allows us to ask for an award of damages. The damages issues might vary from case to case. There are economic damages like medical bills, and there are non-economic damages like pain and suffering that can be awarded. Both economic and non-economic damages can include but not be limited to:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of a wrongful death
In any accident scenario, you have a duty to remain free from carelessness and negligence too. Sometimes a person seeking damages was also negligent. Maybe he or she was going 40 mph in a 35 mph zone when another car turned left in front of the injured claimant’s car. A jury could determine that the claimant was comparatively negligent and assess a percentage of liability for the accident to the claimant. Damages are then apportioned by the percentage of negligence attributable to the claimant. For example, if the gross value of a case is $100,000, and a jury determined that the injured claimant was 15 percent at fault, his or her damages award would be reduced down to $85,000.
California is a pure comparative negligence state
Most states are known as modified comparative negligence states. In those states, if a claimant is determined to be 50 or 51 percent at fault, he or she is barred from recovering any damages at all. In a pure comparative negligence state like California, a claimant can be 70 percent at fault for an accident and still collect 30 percent of their damages.
What to do after an accident
Most people know that they’re injured immediately after an accident. Whatever your injuries, you’re probably going to feel worse 24 or 48 hours later. That’s why you want to document the crash and your injuries then and there. Don’t get talked out of calling 911. Police will document the crash, the damage to the vehicles, the parties and any witnesses. The 911 operator will ask whether you want paramedics dispatched to the scene. Insist on paramedics. They’ll document your subjective and objective symptoms of injury and treat you at the scene. Then they’ll transport you to the nearest emergency room where other treatment will be rendered and medical reports will be generated. Those reports will be of great help in documenting your injuries and your personal injury case.
Don’t give any statements
An insurance adjuster from the insurer of the person who injured you might contact you to “check on how you’re feeling.” Then he or she will ask for a recorded statement. Never give any type of a statement to an opposing insurer. Questions will be asked of you that would never be permitted in court, and then the insurer will use your answers against you in the future. Politely refuse to give a statement, and then call us.
Follow your doctor’s orders
Attend all medical and therapy or rehab appointments on time. If your doctor refers you to another doctor, arrange to see that doctor as soon as possible. The insurer of the party who caused your accident will be obtaining copies of your medical records. They love to missed appointments and gaps in treatment. That’s when they’ll start attacking your credibility. The law allows them to do that too.
How we can help you
If you’re planning on representing yourself in your injury case, you’ll be doing yourself a tragic disservice. You don’t know the California rules of evidence and procedure, and it’s highly likely that if you do settle your case, you’ll settle it for a mere fraction of its value. The adjuster will close the file with a smile.
We’re knowledgeable, experienced, aggressive and dedicated personal injury lawyers with a success rate that other law firms just can’t match. Judges and insurance defense lawyers know us and respect us. Contact us right after any accident for a free consultation and case evaluation. No legal fees are due until such time as we’ve obtained compensation for you.