The Different Types of Accidents

Legal Cause Of Action For Different Southern California Accidents

Accidents happen everyday, which may result in mild to severe injuries or even fatalities. If the accident was caused by someone else and resulted in your injury then you may be entitled to compensation under two legal theories: negligence and/or strict liability.

Negligence

Negligence is when someone fails to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or death of another person.  The California Supreme Court in Ladd v. County of San Mateo, 12 Cal.4th 913, 917-18 (1996), expressed that the elements needed to prove negligence is well established:

  • Defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff or to a class of which the plaintiff is a member
  • Defendant breached his or her legal duty of care
  • The breach was the proximate or legal cause of the resulting injury

What If My Negligence Partially Caused The Accident?
Generally, you may still be entitled to recover even if your conduct partly caused the accident.  California is considered a pure comparative fault state.  Pursuant to Civ. Code §1714(a), you are responsible for your own acts, including for someone else’s injuries even if those injuries were partially caused by his or her own actions.  Thus, even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you may still sue for compensation from the other at-fault parties, but any damages you are awarded is reduced by the percentage of your fault.  Some exceptions are found in Civ. Code  §§ 3333 – 3343.7

What Types Of Accidents Are Caused By Negligence?

Accidents caused by other people’s negligence may include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Train accidents
  • Aviation accidents
  • Premise liability cases such as slip, trip and fall accidents
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents

Strict Liability

California is a statutory strict liability state; meaning that legal responsibility for your injury and damages is imposed by statute without consideration of fault.  Thus, you do not have to prove that the other party acted negligently or otherwise.  Rather, you must only prove that the Southern California accident occurred and proximately caused your injuries.

What Types Of Accidents Is Strict Liability Imposed?
Dog Bite
Pursuant to Civ. Code §3342(a), California holds dog owners responsible for your injuries only when the dog bites you while you are in a public place or lawfully in a private place regardless of the dog’s former viciousness and/or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.  The fact that the dog never bit anyone before and the owner did not know of the dog’s potential violent behavior is not a defense.
Products Liability
If you were injured due to a defective product, the manufacturer and distributor are held strictly liable for your damages.  California Supreme Court became the first to apply strict liability to defective products in the 1963 case Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, 59 Cal. Ed 57 (1963).  There are three theories that may cause a product to be defective:

  • Manufacturing defect – the product was not manufactured according to the specifications or design.
  • Design defect – the blueprint or design of the product makes the product inherently dangerous.
  • Warning label defect – the product lacked adequate warnings of the product’s dangers or hazards.

Vicarious Liability
California also holds third parties responsible for the conduct, whether negligent or intentional, of another regardless of the third party’s fault.  Examples include the following:

  • Respondeat Superior – the employer is responsible for the conduct of the employee pursuant to Code §2338.
  • Joint and several liability Code §1431 imposes joint liability upon two or more responsible parties for your economic damages. Thus, each defendant is responsible for the entire economic damages award regardless of each individual’s degree of fault.  However, Civ. Code §1431.2 imposes several liability for non-economic damages; each defendant is responsible for only his or her degree of fault.

Legal Representation Starts Here

The first step to any case is to know your legal cause of action when asserting your claim for compensation.  Understanding your case is key since one accident could have multiple claims and defendants.  For example, in a car accident case, you may have a negligence claim against the driver as well as a strict product liability claim against the manufacturer of your vehicle for defective air bags.  Our knowledgeable attorneys will analyze your case to determine what claims you have.  Call us at (888) 907-2176 for immediate assistance.

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