Twin Lakes Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal Injury claims arise when a party violates a duty imposed by the law and harms someone. These are not obligations defined by a contract, but by standards in the common law and safety statutes or regulations. In the majority of cases, the wrongdoer has been careless, or negligent, by failing to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.
Instances of even brief inattention or neglecting conditions can alter lives significantly. Serious personal injuries disrupt finances and lives. If you find yourself as the victim of someone’s lack of diligence and due care, a personal injury lawyer can help you with compensation. Below, we explain the essentials of personal injury cases.
What Causes Personal Injuries?
A vast array of actions and omissions can injure you. These can range from unsecure objects that fall upon you to defective products. Commonly, personal injuries happen to victims on the road and at unsafe establishments.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Careless driving triggers collisions involving passenger vehicles, commercial trucks and buses, motorcycles, and vehicles used with ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Impaired driving and distracted driving contribute to many crashes by causing drivers to lose judgment and attention. The consequences can prove fatal. Consider these statistics:
*Drunk driving killed 1,066 people in California in 2019
*Texting and other cell phone use while driving, GPS use, and other forms of distracted driving accounted for roughly one on every seven traffic fatalities nationwide in 2019
*Annually, 20,000 crashes in California involve distracted driving
In addition to driving under the influence and using smart phones while driving, negligence occurs when drivers violate traffic statutes and other standards by:
*Passing in no-passing zones
*Failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident
*Disobeying speed limits or driving in a manner not prudent for the conditions
*Not giving signals before turning or changing lanes
*Running stop signs or red lights
If you’re injured in a crash with a commercial truck, say on I-880 heading into or away from Twin Lakes, potential violations of federal regulations come into play. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets and enforces rules for:
*How long truck drivers can be on duty at certain time
*Placement and securing of loads
*Inspection of trucks
With the size of commercial trucks and the types of loads, a crash involving one can seriously injure drivers and passengers in much smaller passenger vehicles. More extreme cases involve tankers carrying hazardous materials and heavy construction materials. In truck accident cases, liability might fall upon the truck company, the parties responsible for loading and securing the load, and the driver.
Slips and Falls
An estimated 800,000 people in California visit hospitals due to slips and falls. Nationally, these incidents sent 8 million to emergency rooms in 2019, says the National Safety Council. Liquids and objects left unattended on floors and deteriorating floors and steps create these hazards. Other defects and dangers include recently-polished or slick floors, uneven floors and sidewalks, and poor lighting.
Owners of properties and businesses owe a duty to lawful visitors, such as customers and tenants, to keep their premises reasonably safe from defective property conditions. Negligence can arise from a failure to warn visitors of defective conditions.
Premises liability also encompasses the failure of a property owner to provide adequate security measures to customers or guests. Victims of robberies and assaults may have claims against the property owners who knew or should have known of the dangers that these crimes would occur. Police and court records may reveal frequent assaults and other violent crimes in and close to the property in question.
Inadequate security claims may arise from the premises owners’ failure to furnish adequate lighting in parking or other areas, security cameras and security personnel or patrolling of the grounds. Patrons of hotels and motels may face attacks from intruders due to the lack of proper controls over room entry keys or failing to control or monitor entrances.
What Are the Types of Personal Injuries
Personal injuries affect both the body, mind, and emotions. In the physical realm, you may suffer broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, cuts, bruises, burns, sprains, and disfigurement. Depending on the severity of the fall or crash, victims may become paralyzed or experience permanent or extended disability. Physical pain may follow you for numerous months and years.
Beyond physical harm, you may have emotional or mental trauma. These harms may manifest themselves through behavioral changes, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, and loss of memory or other cognitive function. If you’re the parent, spouse, or child of a victim and you witnessed the incident, you may have recovery for negligent infliction of emotional distress as a bystander of the crash, fall, or attack.
How Do You Prove Damages from Personal Injuries?
As a starting point, personal injuries have economic and non-economic components.
Economic damages consist of out-of-pocket expenses for medical attention, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Medical expenses include amounts spent by you or your medical insurance for items such as:
*Ambulance or airlift transportation to hospital
*Emergency room and hospital care, including stays, x-rays, MRIs, diagnoses, surgeries, prescriptions, and other treatments
*Visits, diagnoses, and treatments by doctors
*Physical therapy and rehabilitation
*Prostheses, wheelchairs, walkers, and other medical supplies
*Psychiatric or mental illness counseling and therapy
In California, your medical expenses are limited to what your health insurance company paid and what you paid or still owe. This figure often runs less than what the medical provider actually billed you. Health insurers and providers typically have arrangements to discount the bill, so that you ultimately do not owe the entire bill.
Your medical records establish the payments, the injuries you suffered are related to the incident, and that the medical services are reasonably necessary and related to the incident. You might recover for even a pre-existing condition if the wreck, fall, or attack aggravated the condition.
Economic losses come also as lost wages and lost earning capacity. You calculate past lost wages as the number of work hours missed multiplied by the hourly rate. Should you not be able to return to work, you resort to expert analysis of your education, work history, and skills to determine what you reasonably could have earned. This involves W-2 and other tax forms, records from prior employers, and your educational records.
You also suffer losses that do not come out of pocket. These non-economic damages include the pain and suffering, loss of ability to engage in daily activities, and loss of companionship and society. As a general rule, California law does not cap non-economic damages at any figure or percentage of economic losses.
As an effort to quantify non-economic losses, you might apply a multiplier to the medical expenses. Significant injuries and high medical bills might call for a higher multiplier to reflect the enormity of your lasting pain and suffering. The per diem approach assigns a dollar figure for each day you take or need to achieve recovery from your injuries.
Will Your Own Negligence Limit or Eliminate Your Right to Compensation?
Six jurisdictions in the United States bar recovery completely for injured persons whose negligence contributes to their own injuries. California is not one of them.
Rather than contributory negligence, California law adopts pure comparative negligence. This reduces your recovery for damages by the percentage of blame assigned to you. For example, if your damages total $200,000, and you have 60 percent at fault, your compensation comes to $40,000 ($200,000-(0.6 x $200,000)).
How Do You Receive Compensation For Your Injuries?
In an auto accident case, payment for your losses comes initially from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance. For most passenger vehicles, the minimum coverage stands at $15,000 per person and $30,000 per crash. If you have serious injuries, these limits likely will not adequately compensate you. With uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your vehicle, you have access to more money to pay for your injuries. To recover under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you must still establish the liability of the at-fault driver.
If you’re injured as a passenger in an Uber, Lyft, or other ride-sharing vehicle, the minimum coverage stands at $1 million. For other drivers or passengers of other vehicles, the required coverage depends on whether the ride-sharing vehicle had an app in operation and carried passengers at the time of the wreck.
For premises liability and other negligence cases, personal injury lawyers resort to commercial general liability insurance if the tortfeasor is a business, industrial, or commercial entity. If you’re injured by a hazardous condition or activity at someone’s home, you would pursue the liability part of the homeowners’ insurance.
When Must a Personal Injury Lawsuit Be Filed?
The statute of limitations for personal injury suits in California is two years. The deadline runs from the date of injury, which would be the date of the crash, fall, attack, or other event that injures you. There is no tolling, or halting, of the statute of limitations while you recover or determine the full extent of your injuries. However, those under age 18 years at the time of injury have two years from turning age 18 to sue.
Contact a Twin Lakes CA Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury attorneys help you gather evidence of fault and your damages. Talking to one may help you avoid pitfalls such as talking to the at-fault driver’s insurance when you don’t have to or settling for far less than your damages.