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What Is “Negligence” in a California Personal Injury Case?

Negligence is when someone’s carelessness or recklessness causes you or a loved one harm. When you can show that an individual’s or a company’s mistake caused property damage or an injury, you can hold them liable.

If you or a loved one were injured by an act of negligence in a personal injury accident, contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.

The Role of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

Another way of looking at negligence is to ask if someone could have prevented the accident by showing a reasonable amount of care or caution. If the answer is yes, the at-fault party could be held fully responsible for the victim’s recovery costs including hospital bills and property damage repair.

Speeding drivers demonstrate negligence when they can’t brake in time to avoid smashing into the rear end of another car. Grocery store owners might be found negligent if managers allow a water puddle to sit on an aisle until a victim comes along and slips and falls to fracture a hip. Dog owners may be negligent when they allow a pet to run loose, and someone suffers a painful dog bite.

Your injury may be caused by a clear case of negligence, but that doesn’t mean that a driver’s car insurer or a store chain’s liability insurer will immediately accept blame. A California personal injury lawyer can help you collect evidence to build a strong case that an insurance company will have a hard time rejecting.

When Do I Need a Lawyer After a California Personal Injury Accident?

If your personal injury accident involves a serious injury, like a fractured bone, a puncture wound, or a Traumatic Brain Injury, you may need the help of a personal injury lawyer to earn fair compensation. When hospital bills rise and your injury takes longer to heal, insurance adjusters work even harder to avoid accepting blame for their policyholder’s negligence.

Your lawyer fully investigates your case and gathers evidence including witness testimony, accident reports, and surveillance footage. This evidence makes it much harder for an insurance company to deny liability. Your attorney will have the proof ready when insurance adjusters try to offer you less than you need to pay every medical invoice.

You could also need a California personal injury lawyer if the at-fault party or their insurance provider tries to transfer blame to you in an accident. This could leave you fully responsible for your medical bills for an accident you didn’t cause. Contact a skilled attorney to find out how to fight back against false accusations.

When Can I Handle My Personal Injury Case Without a Lawyer?

There are a few reasons why you might not need the help of a lawyer in your case:

  • If your accident only involves property damage. Like a fender bender car accident.
  • If your accident only involves very minor injuries like a few scratches or bruises.

The claims process for getting vehicle damage fixed has been streamlined by car insurance companies. You can probably get fast, fair service and get your car repaired or replaced without the help of a lawyer.

If your injuries are minor, a lawyer probably won’t be able to improve the outcome of your case. If your injury doesn’t require medical care you may not be able to seek compensation anyway. If you are taken to the emergency room as a precaution, and no major injuries are discovered, an insurance company will often take care of the cost of an ambulance ride and the bill for one visit to the hospital.

But be cautious. Sometimes the shock of a major accident can mask the pain of a more serious injury. You may not feel any pain until the next morning. Always get any new pain examined by your own doctor and follow the doctor’s advice. If a more serious injury is discovered, medical costs will rise and you may need strong legal protection to make sure an insurance company can’t wiggle out of accepting liability.

How Do I Prove Negligence in My Accident?

Even in clear-cut cases of negligence, insurance companies for at-fault parties, like a driver or a dog owner, will still demand that you prove that your accident was caused by negligence. Even with the proof of a police accident report or a store incident report, insurance companies will question everything simply hoping they can find a way to pay you less in support or nothing at all.

Proving negligence often starts with the concept of “duty of care.” It means that the at-fault party was responsible for keeping you safe. This responsibility applies to business owners who invite you into their offices or stores. They have the legal duty to act to protect you from hazards that they create or that another visitor or customer creates. When they neglect this duty, the initial steps towards building a strong personal injury claim have been taken.

This “duty of care” applies to a landlord who must keep apartments, the apartment complex, and stairwells free from accident dangers. It applies to employers who must offer employees a safe place to work.

Your lawyer will help you present evidence showing the responsible party was negligent in offering this duty of care. It’s just the start of the process of showing a careless individual or company was negligent.

Your attorney will show that these basic factors are all true in your case:

  • A duty of care was owed to the victim
  • The at-fault party neglected to show a reasonable duty of care
  • The victim was in an accident and suffered injuries
  • The at-fault party’s negligence caused the accident and injuries
  • The injuries wouldn’t have occurred without the negligent actions of the at-fault party

“Failure to act” means that someone can be held negligent not just for what they did, but for what they didn’t do. The omission of action can be shown as negligence, just like a careless mistake can be evidence of negligence. A landlord may know about a broken handrail on a set of stairs, but not take action in a reasonable amount of time to repair it. If you take a dangerous fall, the property management company could be liable for supporting you and your family through recovery.

For more information, visit our page on how to prove negligence.

Comparative Negligence in California Personal Injury Cases

California is a “pure comparative negligence” state. It’s a legal concept that means that multiple people can share the blame for an accident. The “pure” term here means that you could share blame with an at-fault party and divide fault anywhere from 1% and 99% or 50/50 or anywhere in between.

You could trip and fall on a box left in an aisle at Walmart. It may be shown that you were partly to blame because you were looking at a cell phone and not watching your steps. Walmart could also share blame for not having employees inspecting aisles for hazards and removing them.

For example, in the claims process, you could have to accept 25% of the damage, while Walmart covered 75% of the damage. This means you could still receive an award for the injury costs you have, but a settlement check would be reduced by 25%, according to your liability.

However, a skilled Maison Law personal injury lawyer would negotiate to get your percentage of fault as low as possible. And if you didn’t deserve any of the blame, your attorney would fight until you were responsible for zero percent of what happened.

For more information, visit Maison Law’s page on comparative negligence.

Compensation Available After Negligence Has Been Proven

Once you and your personal injury lawyer feel that you’ve proven your innocence in an accident, your next step will be requesting support for every hardship you and your family have endured.

Your lawyer prepares a full list of every damage that you’ve suffered. This list doesn’t just include doctor bills. It’s everything you’ve been put through since your accident:

  • Totals on your hospital bills and estimates on future care
  • Estimates on long-term care if you suffer a permanent physical disability
  • Costs of alternate transportation to doctor’s appointments while you are down with an injury
  • Support for the physical pain you endure
  • Support for the emotional trauma you suffer
  • Support for your loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reimbursement for past and future lost income while you must miss work
  • Support for the regular monthly bills you’ve fallen behind on while out of work
  • Reimbursement for property damage

Your lawyer fights to get you and your family the maximum in compensation available for these and other losses. It’s a critical step so that you don’t face a financial crisis in the years to come due to someone else’s mistake.

Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one are hurt due to someone’s negligence, contact a skilled California personal injury lawyer like the skilled attorneys at Maison Law. We offer a free, no-risk case consultation to all victims and their family members. There’s no obligation for this meeting and your case review is completely confidential.

If you decide we can help you prove negligence and earn you more for your claim, you won’t need any upfront money to hire us. We don’t get paid unless we win your case. Then our fee comes out of the award you receive.

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