No one expects to incur a personal injury, but according to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2016, there were 39.5 million people who visited physician offices for unintentional injuries. In 2017 there were 29.4 million people with unintentional injuries requiring an emergency room visit. Another person’s negligence or intentional act can result in permanent life-altering injuries. Incidents in Santa Ana such as a dog bite may be severe enough to warrant a personal injury lawsuit.
We are going to share everything you need to know about hiring a personal injury lawyer.
What Types of Injuries Can I Sue For?
The basis of a personal injury lawsuit is when you suffer an injury that is the result of another person’s negligent or intentional act.
Personal injuries in Santa Ana that result in lawsuits include bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, automobile, motorcycle, and truck accidents, dangerous property conditions, and defective products.
Damages are the money awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. To recover damages the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their injury. The damages may be for medical bills, economic loss, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, property damage, wrongful death, and punitive damages.
Each case is different. The determination on the dollar amount you recover depends on the facts and evidence in your case.
Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations is a deadline that is set forth by law on how long you have following an incident to file a lawsuit. In California, the Statute of Limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of injury.
There are circumstances when you can toll the Statute of Limitations. Tolling means there is a suspension on the period of time for the deadline.
Examples of when a judge may allow a tolling period include when the injured person is a minor child. In this case, the clock begins to run again when the child becomes an adult.
A judge may also grant a tolling period if the defendant is out of state, mentally unstable, or in prison. The timeline resumes when the situation changes.
California Tort Law
Personal injury claims are torts. A tort is a civil wrong in which a person suffers a loss due to the actions of another. The person whose actions were the cause of injury is legally liable for damages.
The California Tort Claims Act (CTCA) is a law that protects government offices and employees from some personal injury lawsuits. Understanding this law is important if an injury takes place at a city, county, or state government location.
There are circumstances where a government entity and/or its employees can be found liable in a lawsuit. There are specific requirements you must meet to secure your ability to file a lawsuit against a government entity. This includes the need to provide notice of intent within six months of the injury.
Sovereign Immunity or Liability
The sovereign immunity protecting government offices from liability is what prevents people who suffer injuries from suing the government. That immunity dissolves under certain circumstances including premises liability.
If you can prove that the government was aware of a dangerous condition that was the cause of injury they can be held liable. The other exception is if a government is found to be vicariously liable for an employee’s negligent actions.
The California Tort Claims Act does not allow claims for injuries a person suffers due to the government failing to pass a regulation, law or ordinance, or failure to enforce a law. They are also not liable for injuries the California National Guard causes.
Additional conditions in which they are not liable to include injuries resulting from the issuance or failure to issue a permit, license, certificate, or other government authorization. Injuries resulting from misrepresentation or from reporting identifying information of convicted drug offenders to schools, and injuries resulting from a failure to inspect a property are not recoverable.
Government entities can be held liable for personal injury in some situations. This includes negligent acts by employees, independent contractors, and premises liability for dangerous conditions on government property. They can also be found liable for an employee’s actions made within the scope of their employment or during a government function.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The filing of a personal injury lawsuit usually falls under a negligence claim. When filing a lawsuit the following elements of negligence must be included in the complaint:
- That the defendant had a duty to act in a specific way
- That the defendant breached that duty
- That the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause plaintiff’s injuries
- That the defendant’s negligent actions were the direct and proximate cause of the defendant’s injuries
- That as a direct result of the defendant’s negligent action the plaintiff has suffered damages
California Civil Code Section 1714 states that each person is responsible for the results of their own personal actions. They are also responsible for the injuries those actions cause others.
In California, if it is shown that the plaintiff was partially responsible for their injuries, they will be considered comparatively at fault. Some states refer to this as contributory negligence.
This means if you did something that contributed to your injury, then there will be a reduction to the damages you receive in a comparative amount. If the evidence shows you to be 30% at fault for your injuries, you will recover 70% of your damages.
When filing a lawsuit there are common steps that each case follows, with some variations based on the court and judge preferences.
- File complaint, serve the defendant
- Wait for the answer and any counter-complaint and file an answer
- Discovery, including review of medical records, depositions, etc.
- Pre-trial, settlement conference, mediation according to court requirements
- Settlement or Trial
The steps may not follow the exact order above. There will be hearings mixed in with discovery and negotiations, as well as the possibility of motions being filed.
Common motion is for summary disposition. In this motion, one party claims there is not enough evidence for the case to move forward and requests dismissal.
Why You Need a Santa Ana Lawyer
If you move forward without an attorney you must have a complete understanding of the law surrounding personal injury lawsuits. You must also know the court rules for a civil procedure to make sure that your order is not dismissed due to a technicality.
The Sweet Law Group has the experience and knowledge to move forward with your lawsuit while you concentrate on recovery from your injuries. If you need a Santa Ana attorney, call the Sweet Law Group today for a 100% free evaluation of your case. With our No Win No Fee contingency fee you pay nothing for your legal fees unless we win your case.
You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Contact us using our online form or call (800) 674-7854.