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Accidents can be life-changing moments that impact your physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being, whether they involve dog bites, car accidents, construction accidents, or premises liability incidents. However, if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by another person or an organization’s negligence, recklessness, or willfully wrongful act, you have the right to seek financial compensation for the injuries you suffered because of their actions.Standing
For San Diego personal injury claims, you must demonstrate a clear connection to the incident to file a lawsuit against whomever caused your injuries. In California, you must actually be injured to satisfy the clear connection requirement for filing suit; bystanders and other uninjured parties can’t sue.Satisfying the Elements of a Negligence Cause of Action
Once you establish legal standing to pursue a cause of action, to successfully assert a cause of action you must satisfy the legal elements of negligence. Personal injuries are a type of negligence, because someone is injured due to someone else’s wrongful acts or failure to act in a certain manner.
For negligence, you must prove:
- A duty of reasonable care between parties existed;
- Someone breached that duty by acting improperly or failing to act in a required way;
- The breach caused your injury; and
- You suffered damages or harm as a result of the breach.
There are personal injury causes of action brought under the theory of strict liability, which doesn’t require a showing of negligence to establish a party’s fault for injuries. However, this is an exception and not nearly as common a claim as negligence.Duty
Generally, people and legal entities have a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm. In California, reasonable care means actions that a reasonably careful person would (or wouldn’t) do if they found themselves in the same situation.Breach
Once a duty is established, you must show the injuring party breached it. A breach is either an act or omission. Acts are affirmative actions a reasonable party wouldn’t do if upholding their legal duty of care – a reasonably prudent motorist wouldn’t text while driving in violation of traffic laws. Omissions are failures to act, such as a restaurant failing to mop up spilled water and causing a patron to fall and injure themselves. The omission of proper monitoring procedures and prompt cleanup was its breach.Causation
You must show the party’s breach caused your injuries. Their actions must not be too removed or too tangential to cause your injury, but they also don’t have to be the sole cause of your injury. California currently uses the substantial factor test to determine causation. Courts look to see if a reasonable person would consider the circumstances in question to have contributed to your injury.Damages
Finally, you must also show you were injured in some way by the other party’s acts or omissions; these are known as damages.Remedies for Temecula Personal Injury Claims Compensatory Damages
Personal injury lawsuits generally seek two types of compensatory damages – economic and noneconomic – designed to make the victim “whole” again for their injuries. These may be awarded once a victim has proven a party’s negligence caused their damages or has successfully shown the party is culpable under the doctrine of strict liability and responsible for the harm they suffered.
Economic damages are financial harms that can be measured, verified through records, and reimbursed through a definitive monetary amount. These losses can vary widely in nature and may include lost wages, medical bills, property damages, and future medical expenses. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, reflect losses you have suffered that have no concrete value. There is no set price on intangible damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of consortium.Punitive Damages
In addition to compensatory damages, exemplary damages known as “punitive damages” can be awarded in certain cases. They are intended both to punish a party for egregious, intentional, grossly reckless, or reprehensible behavior and to discourage anyone from repeating similar conduct in the future. There is no fixed standard or limit exists when awarding punitive damages – rather, judges and juries decide on a case by case basis. The award is discretionary and based on many factors, including:
- How despicable, intentional, or reprehensive the party’s conduct was;
- The party’s financial condition and whether punitive damages would have a proportionately deterrent effect to prevent repetition of the conduct at issues; and
- The award amount (if any) that would be proportion to and reasonably relate to the actual harm caused.
To recover punitive damages in California, the victim must, by a higher standard of clear and convincing evidence, prove the party at fault engaged in an act with malice, fraud, or oppression. Honest mistakes due to carelessness, even when unreasonable, usually don’t rise to a level meriting punitive damages. The victim must also prove they suffered actual harm and be eligible to recover compensatory damages before becoming able to receive punitive damages.Contact an Experienced San Diego Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today
If you or a loved one has been injured by someone’s wrongful actions, it is important to move quickly to protect your rights and understand the options you can pursue to recover damages. The attorneys at Walton Law, APC have extensive experience handling San Diego and Temecula personal injury claims and recovering millions for our clients. Our award-winning attorneys will give you personalized, small firm attention to address the unique aspects of your claim while vigorously advocating for the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to set up your no-obligation, no-risk initial case review. The consultation is confidential and there are no fees unless we win your case. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866) 338-7079 or fill out our Contact Page online to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys will review your case, analyze your unique situation, and help you understand the options that will secure you the best possible outcome for you or your loved one.