In most cases, to be successful when you file your personal injury case, you must prove negligence. What does that mean? You have to prove a couple of things to establish that the other party was negligent.
Duty of Care
The first thing you need to show is that the defendant had a responsibility, or duty to either do something or not do something, to ensure your safety. Let’s use the example of a nurse that has a duty to issue prescribed medicine to you.
Breach of Duty
You must show that the other party was negligent, or breached the duty of care that they had. Using the same example, the nurse breaches her duty and gives you the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage. She is negligent.
Prove that your injuries came from this breach of duty. The wrong medicine or the wrong dose causes you to become extremely ill and have a bad reaction.
California recognizes shared fault injury cases, and they follow the comparative negligence rule. What this means is that the defendant in a personal injury case might assert that you are to blame, partially or in whole, for the injury.
If they can make that case successfully, the amount of your awarded settlement may be decreased. Let’s say that someone runs a red light and hits your car. But you were driving well over the speed limit. You may share fault in the accident.
A judge will decide which part of the blame falls on you. If it’s ten percent, then that amount of your settlement will be lost. A good personal injury attorney will help you to establish negligence and avoid a prorated settlement.
There are exceptions to the comparative negligence rule. For instance, in the case of a dog biting someone. Many states have a “one bite” rule. This means that the dog owner is free from liability the first time their dog bites someone.
In California, however, they follow a “strict liability” policy for dog bites. If your dog bites someone, you are responsible. It doesn’t matter if you are bitten on the dog owner’s property. They are liable for damages. There is no need to prove negligence or fault as there would be in most personal injury cases.
Other Limits in California
California has set limits and exclusions on certain personal injury cases. For example, an uninsured motorist cannot claim pain and suffering damages due to an accident. This holds true even if the other person was totally at fault for the accident.
There is one exception to the scenario above. The uninsured motorist can claim pain and suffering if the driver of the other car is intoxicated or under the influence while driving.
In medical malpractice cases, there is a limit to the amount of pain and suffering damages a person can claim. California law sets the cap at $250,000 for non-economic damages in these cases.
Knowing the law will help you to understand your personal injury case. Having the help of a personal injury attorney makes all the difference in the world when it comes to proving negligence and being awarded a suitable settlement.