California state law allows victims who have been seriously injured by the careless, negligent, or wrongful acts of others to recover compensation for the various damages that resulted from these injuries. Unfortunately, many accident victims are left with mounting medical bills on top of their daily living expenses, and lost income from days off work can prevent them from meeting their financial obligations while they are recovering.
If you have been wrongfully injured due to another party’s actions or lack thereof, a personal injury claim gives you the legal power to take civil action against the individuals, businesses, or government agencies responsible for your injury. However, state laws are incredibly complex. Navigating the legal system on your own can be confusing, intimidating, and downright frightening. The only way to ensure you can protect your rights and obtain fair compensation is to hire legal representation from an Irvine personal injury attorney.
At Easton Law Firm, our compassionate, dedicated, and award-winning attorneys have over a century of combined experience handling personal injury claims. Our experts have successfully represented thousands of clients throughout Southern California, securing over $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts in the past five years alone. We bring extensive legal knowledge, vast resources, and trial-tested litigation skills to our cases—as well as a fierce commitment to helping our clients achieve justice and fair compensation for their injuries.
Personal injury law refers to the field of civil law in which victims who sustain physical, mental, or emotional injury due to the wrongful or negligent actions of an individual, business, or other entity can file claims against the responsible party. In contrast with criminal law, personal injury law is not meant to prosecute a wrongdoer but to obtain compensation for the victim based on the harm they experienced from the defendant’s actions.
Personal injury claims focus on identifying a responsible party who intentionally acted in a specific manner that could pose a danger to others or knowingly ignored a specific risk that caused injury. A defendant in a personal injury case can be a drunk driver whose impairment caused a car accident, a physician who fails to provide proper medical treatment, an apartment owner who neglects to perform maintenance on their property to keep it free from hazards, or even a dog owner who permits their pet to remain off-leash.
Achieving success with a personal injury claim typically depends on establishing that the defendant’s actions were negligent. Your Irvine personal injury attorney must establish the following four elements to prove negligence in a personal injury case:
Duty of care—the defendant owed you a duty of care.
Duty of care refers to the legal responsibility imposed on the defendant that requires they adhere to a standard of “reasonable care” when interacting with others. Duty of care arises when some sort of relationship exists between two parties, and one party is obligated to exercise a level of reasonable care while they are performing any actions that could potentially cause harm to the other party. For example, a driver has a duty of care to other motorists to obey all state traffic codes, adhere to all posted traffic signs and signals, and operate their vehicle safely to avoid causing an accident.
Breach of duty—the defendant violated their duty of care.
Proving that the defendant breached the duty of care they owe to the victim means the attorney must show that the defendant behaved in a knowingly dangerous manner that caused a “foreseeable” injury. An attorney proves an injury is foreseeable by establishing that a reasonably cautious person would have been aware that their conduct could potentially cause an injury to someone else. Moreover, a reasonably cautious person would have acted differently than the defendant did in the situation in question to avoid a risk of harm. In the drunk driving example above, choosing to get behind the wheel while intoxicated is breaching the established duty of care.
Causation—the victim’s injuries resulted from the defendant breaching duty of care.
Establishing causation refers to proving that the victim sustained specific injuries in the incident and that these injuries directly resulted from the defendant violating the duty of care they owed the victim. To establish causation, an Irvine personal injury attorney will gather evidence to demonstrate the full extent of the injuries experienced by the victim and confirm that these injuries occurred as a direct result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care. Proving causation usually involves evaluating medical records, hospital bills, police reports, and other documentation related to the incident and subsequent injuries.
Damages—the victim incurred certain damages due to their injuries.
The fourth and final element of proving negligence is showing that the damages listed in the victim’s personal injury claim did, in fact, result from the injuries they sustained due to the defendant’s negligence and not from another cause. Damages often include hospital or medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Even if the defendant admits to negligent conduct, disputes can arise regarding the extent of the damages in the case, and defendants are motivated to minimize these damages as much as possible to reduce the compensation amount they are responsible for paying.