Automobile Injuries and Compensation in California
When someone is injured or dies in a car crash, many times someone is legally responsible. To establish responsibility, you must show liability and damages. Liability is whether or not someone caused the accident. This may be caused in one of three ways. The first is by negligence - which means when someone causes an accident through careless or thoughtless actions. This is the most common reason behind a lawsuit. The court considers with what a "reasonable person" would have done under the same circumstances. The second is when someone deliberately or knowingly cause an accident, called an intentional wrong. In this type of case, a victim must sue the person for their assets, since insurance is not a factor. The final one is called strict liability, when someone is responsible for another's injuries regardless of whether or not he/she was careless. One example of this in California is dog bites. A dog owner is responsible for their dog attacking even if the dog has never shown any signs of aggressiveness before.
Returning to negligence,the most common basis for a lawsuit, the victim must prove a series of questions:
-Did the other party act reasonably to protect others from harm? This is called duty of care.
-Did the other party fail to act as a "reasonable person" would have acted in a similar situation? This is called breach of duty.
-Was someone injured or suffered other damages (property damage or financial loss) because the other party failed to act as stated above?
California law holds that when there are several people held responsible for the damage done, no matter what percentage of blame each one has, each party is liable for the entire amount of the victim's damages relating to medical expenses, property damages and anything considered "economic". "Non-economic" damages, such as emotional distress or mental anguish, are awarded by percentage of fault among the parties that caused the accident.
Damages are the losses you have sustained, such as injuries, property damage (your wrecked car), loss of income (possibly even future income), loss of support to loved ones, as well as physical and mental pain. Unfortunately, victims of accidents often depend upon the awarded damages in order to pay for medical bills and living expenses due to their lost income. There are two general types of
damages. These are called compensatory damages (actual damages) and punitive damages (designed to punish the person and/or prevent others from engaging in the same conduct). An example of punitive damages mightbe if the person at fault was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Compensatory damages not only include the obvious such as lost wages, medical expenses and property damage, but also may include future earnings, past and future pain and suffering and future medical expenses. If there is a long-term disability caused by the accident, there may be future reduced earnings of the injured party. In wrongful death cases, compensation may be awarded for what is called, "loss of consortium". This is what would have been future married life - affection, comfort and companionship. Immediate family members can also claim, "loss of society and companionship" - that is, the loss of love and comfort that they would be deprived of in the future.
There are many types of injuries associated with car accidents. One of the more common is called traumatic brain injury (TBI). This happens when there is a sudden physical trauma to the head which affects the brain. Most TBIs happens during a car accident, but some occur during a slip and fall, some sports and child abuse. TBI is one of the most serious injuries that can happen in a car wreck, and it is important to consult with a car accident attorney to make sure you are receiving adequate compensation for the injury. Many people tend to pass over the emotional impact of a wreck, but at times victims suffer from severe emotional trauma. This can lead to losing your sense of security, anxiety,
insomnia, confusion and a whole host of unreasonable emotions. In severe cases, where symptoms last for more than three months, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional for treatment.
Death during a car wreck is obviously the worst case scenario. When a death is due to someone else's negligence or deliberate act, this is known as wrongful death. Only the executor of the person who died can file this type of lawsuit, and only the people who are designated to inherit can receive compensation from a lawsuit. There is a time limit, or statute of limitations, on when you can file this type of lawsuit, so it
is advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney before much time has passed in order to preserve your right to sue.
Most personal injury attorneys work for what is called a contingency fee. A contingency fee refers to legal fees that come from your settlement. This means that you do not have to pay legal fees up front. Usually, if there is no recovery, there is no fee paid to the attorney, so it is in the attorney's interest to not only take cases that are more likely to generate compensation, but to work diligently so that there
will be a recovery.
A personal injury accident attorney is an important factor which may determine the outcome of your claim. Every claim is different, and must be evaluated on an individual basis, so the information provided here is for general informative purposes only, as it simplifies complex legal issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. For information about your specific claim, please contact an auto accident attorney to evaluate your situation.
As consumer justice attorneys, Phillips Law is dedicated to assisting and fighting for individuals who have been injured, disabled or had a family member killed in all types of vehicle or pedestrian crashes in Sacramento and the Gold Country area. We offer legal help and assistance in auto, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian cases. We are a local firm emphasizing personal contact with our clients.