Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury accident can occur at any time and without any warning: one moment you may be walking along the sidewalk or down a flight of stairs at the store and suddenly slip on a foreign substance on the ground, causing you to sustain serious injuries. Or you may attempt to open up a jar of olives or another food and suddenly the glass jar explodes in your hands, causing you to sustain deep, painful cuts. In each case, the surprise and anger are only the beginning: treatment at a hospital and time missed from work is almost certainly required, causing the injured individual (the “plaintiff” if he or she files a lawsuit) to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional pain alone.
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident that was caused by another person’s carelessness or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help you understand what legal recourse you may have. An attorney can also help you investigate your case to comprehend precisely what went wrong at the time you were injured – and who is to blame. Finally, a personal injury attorney can help calm jittery nerves by explaining what you can expect throughout the legal process.
Different Types of Personal Injury Accidents
“Personal injury accident” is a catchall term that encompasses a wide variety of ways in which individuals can be injured. A personal injury lawyer, then, is one who is able to help individuals recover compensation after they have been hurt by another person. Each type of personal injury accident requires proof of negligent behavior that causes the plaintiff to sustain an injury. Some of the more common types of personal injury accidents include:
- Slips and falls, a type of premises liability lawsuit that can occur when a property owner opens his or her property up to guests or customers but does not take care to ensure the property is safe for these invitees.
- Defective products that are defective due to a manufacturing defect, a design defect, and/or a warning/labeling defect. Manufacturers of defective products are responsible for the injuries their products cause so long as no one tampered with or modified the product between the time it left the manufacturer to the time of the injury accident.
- Dog bites and dog attacks can leave a victim with serious and disfiguring injuries. California law imposes “strict liability” on dog owners for the injuries their animals cause to other individuals.
- Medical malpractice is a legal term to describe negligent acts committed by a doctor or medical professional against a patient. Misdiagnoses are a common type of medical malpractice. These cases can be extremely complex to litigate successfully, so an attorney’s assistance would be useful.
- Intentional torts are harmful or injurious acts committed against the plaintiff intentionally or with deliberation. In addition to subjecting the defendant to civil liability, some intentional torts may also result in the defendant being charged with a crime.
Common Injuries Suffered in Personal Injury Accidents
Just as there are many different types of personal injury accidents, there are a variety of different injuries that can result from these injury accidents. While any injury is possible in any type of personal injury accident, some injuries appear more frequently in certain types of injury accidents than others:
- Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds occur when sharp objects come into contact with exposed skin. Cuts and puncture wounds can also occur during dog bite attacks.
- Burns are common when a person is exposed to a hot substance (whether solid, liquid, or gas) without proper protection. Electrical burns can also occur on jobsites and around the home, and chemical burns can occur when a person is exposed to a dangerous substance like acid or bleach.
- Broken bones are common in slip and fall cases along with other premises liability cases. While some broken bone injuries will easily heal if given enough time and the bone is properly set, some broken bones like hips and knees may take a significantly longer period to heal and may require surgeries to correct.
- Amputations/loss of limbs are common in injuries that occur in industrial settings where there are heavy machines around which workers must perform their job duties. A worker who is distracted by another may accidentally put his or her hands too close to a machine, or a maintenance worker may begin operating on a machine without the machine having been “tagged out” properly.
When you have been injured in a personal injury accident, it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention from an emergency room or urgent care center. In some cases, prompt medical treatment can help prevent you from suffering even worse injuries and complications. Not only this, but prompt medical treatment can result in a much better prognosis.
Damages Available to Personal Injury Victims
When you have been injured by the negligence, recklessness, or even intentional conduct of another, you may be left with serious physical and/or mental injuries. With time and the proper treatment, these injuries may heal and you may be able to return to the activities you once enjoyed. However, this would only occur after significant periods of medical treatment that can leave you and your family in a negative financial situation.
Personal injury lawsuits allow injured plaintiffs to recover some of the costs and expenses of their injury. These can include:
- Economic damages such as medical bills and hospitalization costs, both that occurred at the time of the injury accident as well as future medical expenses and treatment costs. Lost wages can also be compensated through a personal injury lawsuit, as can the difference between the plaintiff’s post-accident wages and pre-accident wages if he or she is not able to return to his or her previous job;
- Noneconomic damages such as mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other “losses” that may be difficult to express in financial terms but are nonetheless real and painful; and
- Punitive damages meant to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior by others, if the defendant acted with intent or extreme disregard for your safety and the safety of others.
Plaintiffs should take the time to carefully consider all of the ways in which a personal injury accident has affected them and to document each of these losses, expenses, and injuries. A personal injury attorney can assist in this process and provide helpful advice and guidance.
Common Myths About Personal Injury Cases in California
Myths are dangerous in personal injury cases as the misinformation can cause injured plaintiffs to take improper actions or fail to take proper actions in a timely manner. This can seriously harm the plaintiff’s legal rights and reduce the amount of compensation he or she may receive – or prevent him or her from receiving compensation altogether. For example:
- You can recover compensation even if you are determined to be partially at fault for causing your injuries;
- The insurance companies are not your friends, not matter how pleasant they seem: they want to settle your case for as little money as possible;
- Not all attorneys charge the same fees to handle a personal injury cases: in fact, some attorneys will handle personal injury cases on a contingency-fee basis; and
- If the defendant is convicted in a criminal trial for having intentionally caused you injury, this can often be used in a civil trial to quickly obtain a judgment in your favor along with an order that the defendant pay your expenses and losses.
The internet and other sources are replete with misinformation: it is best to consult with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to learn about your rights and remedies and what steps you can take to protect both after a personal injury accident.
How Do I Win My California Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit is successful when he or she proves by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the following three factual propositions are true:
- The defendant acted negligently: In other words, the defendant’s behaviors were unreasonable and careless and a reasonable individual in the defendant’s shoes would not have chosen to act in the manner the defendant did. Whether a defendant acted carelessly or negligently is always measured by determining what an objective and reasonable person would do, but in some situations the defendant’s fears and thoughts are analyzed as part of determining whether he or she acted reasonably under the circumstances.
- The plaintiff suffered an injury: The plaintiff must have suffered some loss, some injury, or some expense. If the plaintiff did not suffer such a loss, then there is little point in the plaintiff pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Whatever losses and expenses the plaintiff claims must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
- The plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence: There must be a causal connection between what the defendant did and the injury suffered by the plaintiff. If the plaintiff would have suffered his or her injury or loss regardless of what the defendant did, then the plaintiff may not be able to recover compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File My Personal Injury Lawsuit in Los Angeles?
In California, injured plaintiffs have two years from the date of their injury accidents to file a personal injury lawsuit. This “countdown” begins to run on the date the injury accident occurs and, except for a few rare situations, does not stop running until the time has expired or until the plaintiff has filed his or her personal injury lawsuit. If a plaintiff does not file his or her lawsuit within that two-year period, then the defendant may bring to the court’s attention the fact that the statute of limitations has run. Unless the plaintiff can show that the time has not in fact run due to the application of one or more exceptions, then the court will have no choice but to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.
What if the plaintiff does not know he or she is injured by the careless acts of another until some time months – or even years – later? If it was truly impossible for the plaintiff to know he or she was injured until such time as he or she made such a discovery, California statutes allows the statute of limitation countdown to begin on the date the plaintiff discovered his or her injury. The plaintiff will then have one year (not two) from this date within which to file his or her personal injury lawsuit.
(If the plaintiff would have known about his or her injury before he or she actually did if he or she had exercised due diligence and care, then the one-year time period will begin running from that date and not the date the injury was actually discovered.)
If the defendant cannot be located within the State of California, if he or she is in prison, or if he or she is evading service, the statute of limitations may be “tolled,” or stopped, until the situation has been rectified. The statute of limitations would then resume its countdown and would have as much time as was left when it was tolled (the statute of limitations does not “restart” in such a circumstance).
Statute of limitations issues can be extremely complicated (as this brief overview has probably demonstrated). The best course of action is to file your personal injury lawsuit well ahead of the two-year statute of limitations. If you believe there is an issue regarding the statute of limitations and whether or not it has run in your case, it is best to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can analyze your case and take whatever actions may be appropriate.
Where Can I Go If I Need Additional Assistance?
A personal injury attorney should be your first stop if you have additional questions about personal injury lawsuits in California. It is best to seek advice from someone with legal training who regularly practices personal injury lawsuits: otherwise, you are liable to get outdated or inaccurate advice. Share your concerns with a personal injury attorney: many attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case without having to pay any money upfront.