The field of personal injury includes a wide variety of different types of incidents, such as vehicle accidents, construction site accidents, slip and falls or dog bites and a range of injuries from minor to catastrophic and sometimes even death. One constant in all of the types of cases that Orange County personal injury lawyers see is that someone’s negligence resulted in another person’s injury.
Orange County personal injury lawyers must prove negligence in order for a defendant to be legally responsible for the injuries. Negligence consists of four elements, and there are legal requirements to prove each one.
• Duty of care: In all situations, the law implies that a person has a duty to another person to avoid causing an injury if a reasonable person in a similar situation would have prevented that injury by doing something or not doing something. In some instances, the duty is clear; a driver, for instance, must obey traffic rules regarding speed, stopping at red lights and driving with headlights on at night to avoid causing accidents. Other situations are not as obvious; what if a neighbor’s child wanders onto a homeowner’s property and gets hurt?
• Breach of duty: Proof that the defendant failed in their duty is necessary. Running a red light may be an obvious breach, but how can a homeowner breach their duty if someone enters their property without the homeowner’s knowledge? Orange County personal injury lawyers will explain that issues of duty and breach are very fact-specific and circumstantial;
• Causation; A causal link must be established between the breach of duty and the injury that resulted. Causation is often very direct but may not be, say Orange County personal injury lawyers at Russell & Lazarus. For instance, in the case of someone who had a pre-existing condition, the issues becomes did the present incident cause the injury, exacerbate the injury or was the injury solely due to the previous accident?
• Damages: The intention of the award of damages in a personal injury cases is to place the injured plaintiff back in the same place they were before the incident that caused the damages and is measured as a monetary value. Damages must be certain and precise and not speculative, but they also must measure future losses. For example, it is a straightforward calculation to measure medical bills that have been incurred to date but difficult to predict the level of care if an injury is permanent. Similarly, past lost wages and future earning potential require different measures to truly reflect all a plaintiff has lost. Other damages, such as pain and suffering and property damage, are also recoverable as compensatory damages. Depending on the circumstances, punitive damages may also be awarded, not to make the plaintiff whole again but to set an example of the defendant and in some cases to punish the defendant for especially egregious behavior.
The majority of personal injury cases involve one or more insurance companies. As an injured party, it is important to understand that insurance is a business and claims adjusters are professionals who receive incentives to quickly settle cases for low dollar amounts. The simple facts are that the average person will be in over their heads if they attempt to negotiate their own claim and a party represented by a personal injury lawyer statistically receives a higher settlement than an unrepresented party even when including any legal fees charged. The only focus of the injured party should be the most complete and swiftest recovery possible.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of another’s negligence, carelessness or reckless acts, you owe it to yourself to understand your rights. Begin with a call to Orange County personal injury lawyers at Russell & Lazarus, APC at 949-851-0222.