For more than 25 years, attorney Douglas Easton has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s highest AV Preeminent* peer review rating for ethical standards and legal ability.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Motor Vehicle Accident in Los Angeles
Motor vehicle crashes are common causes of personal injury claims in Los Angeles and throughout the state. As a fault state, it requires that the driver who caused an accident assume responsibility for the resulting damages. State law also requires every driver to have auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. However, if the at-fault driver’s insurance cannot fully compensate the victim’s damages, the victim has the right to go ahead with a personal injury claim.
A few of the most common causes of car accidents that can generate personal injury claims in Los Angeles include:
- Driving under the influence (DUI). It is illegal for anyone to drive while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, and the penalties for DUI include fines, jail time, mandatory substance abuse treatment, and driver’s license suspension. Penalties automatically increase substantially when the defendant has injured or killed someone.
- Reckless driving. Unfortunately, some drivers willfully engage in dangerous misconduct behind the wheel. When they do this in any manner resulting in an accident, they can face criminal charges along with civil liability for victims’ damages.
- Speeding. This increases the chances of an accident happening and the severity of the resulting damages. If a defendant caused a serious accident due to excessive speeding, they could also face a reckless driving charge.
- Distracted driving. This is the most common cause of all vehicle accidents in the United States. Cell phone use behind the wheel and any other type of distracted driving can easily cause a serious accident.
Your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help gather any evidence needed to establish liability for your recent motor vehicle accident. This may include statements from other drivers and witnesses who saw the accident happen, the at-fault driver’s cell phone records, data from the computers of the vehicles involved in the accident, and recordings from nearby traffic cameras.
Recovery from a motor vehicle accident in Los Angeles typically begins with an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. However, if their insurance cannot fully cover the victim’s damages, they could move to file a personal injury claim to secure compensation for any outstanding damages. There is no guarantee that their insurance company will be helpful or handle their claim in good faith, further complicating their recovery. Working with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney provides them with the greatest chance of maximizing their recovery through all available channels of compensation.
Understanding Premises Liability Claims in Los Angeles
Another common cause of personal injuries throughout Los Angeles is premises liability, or failure of private property owners to maintain reasonably safe premises for their lawful visitors. The distinction between lawful visitors is important; the premises liability laws do not protect intruders or trespassers. The victim of a slip and fall accident or other premises liability-related injury must be legally present on the property for them to have grounds for a civil suit against the property owner.
Success with a premises liability claim requires proof that the injury occurred because of a safety hazard on the property that the owner failed to address in a reasonable manner. Property owners are expected to address foreseeable safety issues as soon as they become aware of them or at least warn lawful guests and visitors about known hazards when they visit the property.
Rules for Dog Bite Claims in Los Angeles
While most people only have positive experiences with dogs, and they are largely considered man’s best friend, the reality is that a dog can potentially inflict catastrophic or even fatal injuries on a person unexpectedly. California enforces a strict liability rule for dog attacks, which means that a dog’s owner is liable for any and all damages their pet causes to another person, no matter if the dog has any known history of prior aggression. If the dog owner knew their dog was dangerous but failed to handle it appropriately, they can also face criminal charges.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Catastrophic Injury
A personal injury can qualify as catastrophic if it results in permanent harm to the victim. A few examples of potentially catastrophic injuries include:
- Severe burns. Any burn over a large region of the body or a severe burn that completely destroys the skin cannot only be excruciatingly painful but also permanently scarring. Victims of severe burns may need multiple skin grafting surgeries and face long-term complications like chronic pain and reduced flexibility.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Any brain injury has the potential to cause life-changing effects to the victim. Brain injuries are unpredictable and difficult to treat, and it is possible for the victim to face a host of complications immediately following their injury and unexpected symptoms that appear suddenly in the future.
- Spinal injuries. Any injury to the spinal cord has the potential to cause permanent paralysis to the victim. If the injury completely severs the spinal cord, the brain will be unable to communicate with the rest of the body below the site of the injury. Incomplete injuries that leave the spinal cord partially intact can still result in diminished range of motion and reduced sensation, and the victim may require extensive ongoing rehabilitative care.
Any catastrophic injury has the potential to cause both immediate and long-term damages. It’s essential to have reliable legal counsel for this type of case, both in terms of proving liability for the injury and proving the full scope of the damages the defendant caused. When you choose Easton & Easton for legal representation in your catastrophic injury claim, we can work closely with your medical treatment team to determine the extent of the future complications and disabilities you could experience due to the defendant’s actions.
Special Rules for Medical Malpractice Claims in Los Angeles
While thousands of Los Angeles residents trust medical professionals to provide effective, safe treatment for their injuries, the reality is that medical negligence is a top cause of injuries and deaths throughout the country. When a medical professional fails to meet the standard of care their patient requires, they can cause an injury that constitutes grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Medical malpractice technically falls within the purview of personal injury law, but there are special rules for medical malpractice claims you must be prepared to address. You will need a sworn statement from a medical professional who possesses the same credentials and medical board certifications as the defendant in your claim, and you will also need to provide advance notice of your intent to file a civil suit before actually filing the case.
Recovery from your medical malpractice claim can entail most of the same damages that you could claim in any other personal injury case. However, state law limits the amount of compensation you can receive for your pain and suffering, even if you suffered a catastrophic injury due to the defendant’s actions. Your Los Angeles personal injury attorney is the optimal resource to consult to determine the breadth of the compensation you could potentially claim from the defendant.
Proving Liability for a Personal Injury in Los Angeles
No matter how your personal injury in Los Angeles occurred, the first challenge you face when it comes to securing the compensation you legally deserve is proving the exact cause of your injury. The majority of the personal injury claims filed in Los Angeles each year are the result of negligence, or failure to use reasonable care in a given situation. Every adult will have many duties of care they must fulfill on a regular basis. For example, a driver has a duty of care to operate their vehicle attentively and to obey speed limits and traffic signals.
To succeed with your personal injury claim, you must identify the party responsible for your injury and prove that they failed to uphold a duty of care that directly caused your claimed damages. Alternatively, it is possible for intentional and criminal misconduct to cause a personal injury. In this situation, the defendant not only faces your civil suit but also criminal charges filed by the state. Their criminal case could potentially affect your civil suit in various ways and the total amount of compensation you win.
Your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help gather a combination of materials you may need to firmly establish liability for your damages. Depending on how your personal injury occurred, this could include physical evidence from the location where you were hurt, digital evidence such as computer data and cell phone records, and testimony from any witnesses who saw your personal injury occur in real-time.
Some personal injuries occur in obscure or complex ways, and liability may not be immediately clear. It is also possible for a personal injury case to involve technical concepts the average person may not be able to explain or understand on their own. Your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help you secure expert witness testimony in such a situation. They may not only be able to help prove liability but also establish the full scope of your claimable damages. For example, an accident reconstructionist may help prove exactly how a recent car accident happened and identify the at-fault driver. A medical professional could help substantiate your claim for compensation for a catastrophic injury, proving the full scope of the effects the defendant’s actions have had on your life.
Claiming Recompense for your Economic Losses
Once you have proven exactly how your personal injury occurred and identified the defendant or defendants responsible for it, the next step of your case is proving the full scope of the damages the defendant inflicted on you and your family. Under state law, the damages the plaintiff can potentially win from their personal injury case can include both economic damages and non-monetary damages. For example, your economic damages may include the following:
- Medical expenses. After you have suffered a bodily injury due to another party’s actions in Los Angeles, your attorney can help you hold them responsible for the expense of all the medical care you will need to fully heal from the injury in question. This includes any immediate health care expenses you incurred in the aftermath of your personal injury and any anticipated future medical expenses you are likely to incur for managing your symptoms and rehabilitating from the harm done by the defendant.
- Lost wages. When a defendant’s actions have injured you, and you are unable to work, the defendant absorbs liability for the income you cannot earn as you recover from your injury. Your attorney can help calculate these damages, including the value of any paid time off you were forced to use immediately following the injury in question.
- Lost earning capacity. Unfortunately, some personal injuries are severe enough to leave victims unable to work and earn income. Whether you are unable to return to your previous job and must accept lower-paying work or the defendant has left you unable to work at all in the future, your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help hold them liable for any future income you are no longer able to earn.
- Property damage. In the event that the defendant’s actions also result in the loss of your property, they are liable for the expense of repairing or replacing that property.
With Easton & Easton representing your case in Los Angeles, our goal is to help maximize your settlement to the fullest extent possible under California law. While the total amount of your immediate and future economic damages may be substantial, you also have the right to claim compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced.
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case
It may sound difficult to place dollar values on intangible losses such as psychological distress and physical pain, but your Los Angeles personal injury attorney will know how to maximize this aspect of your recovery. Under state law, there is no limit to the amount of pain and suffering compensation a plaintiff can claim with the sole exception of medical malpractice cases. As long as your personal injury claim falls outside the purview of personal injury law, there is no cap on how much pain and suffering compensation you can seek from the defendant.
There are two common methods attorneys use to calculate suitable pain and suffering compensation for their clients. The method they use typically depends on the severity of the client’s injuries. When a personal injury plaintiff is expected to fully recover from their injury within a relatively short time, their attorney is more likely to use the per diem method. This will award a set amount of pain and suffering compensation for each day they spend recovering from their injury.
Alternatively, if a personal injury plaintiff has been profoundly injured and faces long-term or permanent medical complications and disabilities, their attorney will probably seek a large sum of money for pain and suffering compensation using the multiplier method. The attorney multiplies the total of their client’s financial damages by a number that represents the severity of their condition, usually between one and five. If the plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries, the pain and suffering compensation they obtain from a successful civil suit could eclipse the total of their economic damages.
Other Variables That Can Influence Plaintiff Compensation in a Personal Injury Case
Ultimately, the right attorney can have a tremendous positive impact on the outcome of your personal injury case and the final amount of compensation you obtain from the defendant. However, there are other variables that may come into play to influence the final outcome of the case for better or worse.
Anyone who intends to file a personal injury case of any kind must understand how the state’s pure comparative negligence law works. Under this rule, a plaintiff will lose a portion of their total case award if they are found to have partially caused the injury in any measure. However, there is no fault threshold that would bar the plaintiff from recovering compensation. It’s theoretically possible for a plaintiff to be found 99% at fault, in which case they would only receive 1% of their total claimed damages from the defendant. If the plaintiff is found 10% at fault, they lose 10% of their award.
If you have any concerns as to whether you will bear partial liability for your personal injury, it is essential that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will examine the details of how your personal injury happened and help determine the most effective ways to reduce any comparative fault you absorb for the incident.
It is also important to remember that if your personal injury was the result of any type of intentional and/or illegal misconduct, the defendant could face additional penalties in the form of criminal charges from the state. The judge handling their sentencing may include restitution to you as part of their penalty; you may also be called as a witness in their criminal court proceedings. Alternatively, if the defendant was egregiously negligent but did not technically break a law, the judge handling your civil case may add punitive damages to your total compensation to reflect the defendant’s bad behavior.
What to Expect From Your Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney
Any injury case in Los Angeles has the potential to present significant challenges to the plaintiff, and the average person in this situation needs legal counsel they can trust if they want to reach the most positive possible outcome to their impending case. When you choose Easton & Easton as your legal representatives in a personal injury claim, we will immediately begin handling your case by listening to your story and helping you identify the party or parties responsible for your damages. Once fault has been proven, we can help file an insurance claim if this is an available recovery option, maximizing your settlement and addressing any complications that arise with the insurance carrier.
When it comes to your personal injury claim, our goal is to seek a swift settlement on our client’s behalf to shorten the time it takes them to receive the compensation they are rightfully owed and to save them time they would otherwise spend in tedious litigation. As long as the defendant agrees to negotiate with the plaintiff, settlement can proceed and typically allows people to resolve their case within a short time.
Settlement is not always possible, however. A defendant may deny liability, attempt to cast blame for the injury on the plaintiff, or dispute the scope of damages sought in the civil suit. In any of these cases, or if settlement proves inviable for any other reason, the case must be resolved through litigation. In the event that your case proceeds to court, the judge will have the final say regarding liability for your damages and the total amount of compensation you receive from the defendant.
Easton & Easton has decades of experience handling all types of personal injury claims for clients, and we are ready to put this experience to work for you in your impending civil suit. You likely have many pressing legal questions about your recovery options, the total amount of compensation you can claim from the defendant, and what to expect in your forthcoming proceedings. Whatever your case entails, you can rest assured that our team will be readily available to provide the guidance and support you need through all your proceedings. The sooner you connect with our firm, the sooner we can begin guiding you to the optimal outcome and the compensation you legally deserve.
Personal Injury Lawyer FAQs
Q: Will a Defendant Go to Jail for Causing a Personal Injury in Los Angeles?
A: When a personal injury occurs from negligence, the defendant is unlikely to face jail time unless they were egregiously negligent and caused severe bodily harm to the victim. However, if the injury was the result of intentional and criminal misconduct such as DUI, reckless driving, or interpersonal violent crime, the defendant could face severe penalties in criminal court including incarceration, fines, and restitution to the victim along with their liability for the victim’s civil damages.
Q: Do I Need an Attorney to File a Personal Injury Claim in Los Angeles?
A: There is no law that requires a plaintiff to hire legal counsel to file a personal injury claim. However, attempting to handle a personal injury claim by yourself without an attorney is likely to be far more difficult than you may expect, even if liability for your personal injury seems perfectly clear. You would also face complex legal challenges while struggling with your medical needs in recovery. Hiring a Los Angeles personal injury attorney increases your chance of success with your case and makes the entire process much easier to confront.
Q: How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth in Los Angeles?
A: California law allows the plaintiff of a personal injury claim to seek full repayment of all the economic damages they suffered from the incident in question. This can include medical expenses, lost income, lost future earning capacity, and property damage. They are also permitted to seek pain and suffering compensation, and there are no limits on this aspect of recovery for most personal injury cases. Your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can provide an estimate of your case’s total potential value.
Q: What Happens if the Victim of a Personal Injury Dies?
A: Unfortunately, some personal injury victims do not survive their experiences. Under state law, the surviving family of the victim has the right to file a wrongful death claim in lieu of the personal injury suit the victim could have filed if they had survived. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the losses suffered by the family, including lost financial support, care, affection, guidance, and household services that the deceased provided.
Q: What Does a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Cost?
A: Easton & Easton makes it simple to secure the legal representation you need without risk of overly expensive legal fees. We take personal injury cases on a contingency basis. This means you will not pay any upfront or ongoing fees for our legal counsel and will only owe a legal fee if we win your case. The fee we take at the end of your case is a portion of the total amount of compensation we recover on your behalf, and you keep the remainder.
Easton & Easton offers decades of personal injury experience to our clients in the Los Angeles area, and we know the challenges you are most likely to face as you seek compensation for the damages you suffered. Our goal is always to help our client understand the legal mechanisms in play and their options for securing the compensation they rightfully deserve. If you are ready to learn how an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney can empower your recovery efforts, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team.