The Different Types of Personal Injury Cases in California?
Getting injured is scary, painful, and usually expensive! You might need to go to the emergency room, undergo surgery, endure weeks or months of physical therapy, and be unable to work. If your injury was caused intentionally by someone else or attributed to their negligence, then you can seek damages to cover your medical bills and possibly also your pain and suffering. If their behavior or negligence was truly atrocious, you may even be able to receive punitive damages. There are many different types of personal injury cases, and each category has different rules and standards that you must meet to make your case. In this article, we briefly review the most common types of personal injury cases in California.
Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury case. According to the National Safety Council, 103 people die and 11,800 people are injured every single day in car accidents. There are many different ways that you can bring a personal injury case against the other driver and their insurance company, including if the driver:
- Was distracted while driving; for example, sending texts on their phone
- Failed to obey traffic laws; for example, speeding through a stop sign at hitting your car
- Was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Keep in mind that you can also sue a driver for personal injuries if you were a passenger in their car and they were at fault for your accident.
One other important thing to note is that California will not allow you to collect “non-economic damages” after a car accident if you are an uninsured driver. That means you cannot collect damages for things like pain and suffering, physical impairment, and disfigurement if you were driving without insurance. The only exception to this rule is if you were in an accident with a driver under the influence. Just one more reason to always carry car insurance!
Another common type of personal injury case is a medical malpractice claim. You can seek damages if you sustained harm due to a doctor or healthcare provider:
- Giving you a wrong diagnosis or failing to discover a diagnosis; for example, concluding that you have cancer and putting you through chemotherapy before discovering you do not have cancer
- Giving you improper treatment; for example, prescribing a harmful drug dosage or making a mistake during surgery
- Failing to get your consent or exceeding the scope of your consent; for example, removing lymph nodes without telling you
Proving medical malpractice might be more difficult than you imagine. It is not enough that your doctor or medical provider made a mistake. You must prove that a reasonable professional with his or her experience would not have made the same mistake.
California also limits how much you can get in non-economic damages, placing a cap at $250,000.
Your reputation has value, and if someone knowingly tries to harm your reputation by broadcasting false and damaging information about you, it is possible to sue them. The two most common types of defamation are libel and slander. Libel refers to written defamation, while slander refers to verbal defamation.
As a private citizen, you will need to establish three important things to win a defamation case. They are that:
- The defendant’s claim about you is false (they lied)
- The defendant knew the statement was false or showed “reckless regard” for whether or not it was true
- The statement was published
Publishing simply means that the defendant broadcast the claim, either verbally (slander) or in print (libel). This can be as big as publishing an article about you in a leading newspaper or as simple as posting about you on social media or speaking to friends and relatives.
Public figures, such as politicians and movie stars, operate under a more stringent standard. To win a defamation suit, they must show actual malice on the part of the individual or publication.
According to Gallup, 44% of Americans own a dog. And dogs may be man’s best friend, but they can also cause significant injury. States have different laws regarding when a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by his or her pet. California is a “strict liability state,” meaning a dog’s owner is liable in almost every situation in which a dog harms another person. This is true even if it is the first time a dog has bitten person and the dog has shown no aggressive behavior in the past.
Dog owners can be liable when their dog bites a person on public property or even on the dog owner’s property in many circumstances.
Up to this point, the personal injuries we have discussed have been for what lawyers call “unintentional torts.” In plain English, that means accidents where the defendant did not mean to harm or hurt anyone. There is a whole separate category of “intentional torts” where the defendant intentionally causes physical or emotional harm.
Intention torts include things like:
- False imprisonment
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
These are all actions that can result in criminal charges. As a victim, you can seek justice by pressing criminal charges through criminal courts, and you can also seek financial reparations through civil court by launching a personal injury lawsuit. It is important to recognize that intentional torts do not mean you have to have bruises and broken bones. If someone threatened you, caused harm by lying, or inflicted emotional damage, you have been injured and can seek financial damages!
California’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Every state limits the amount of time you have after a personal injury in which you can sue a defendant and seek financial damages. For most personal injury cases in California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your injury or from when you discovered the injury. In the case of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is three years. (There are exceptions in the cases of minors.)
Finding the Right California Attorney for Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury is a big and complex legal field. Every case is different, and we were only able to give you a very brief overview of each major type of personal injury case in this article. If you think that you might have a personal injury case, it is important to schedule a consultation with an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases to learn more about your rights.
If you live in San Diego or Southern California, I would like to hear from you. I want to know the details of your injury and help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. Please schedule a consultation with Saba Law today.
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