Serving Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County And San Diego County
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.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
A personal injury claim may seem very straightforward at first. Another person or party caused injuries and economic damages to you, and you claim compensation for those damages through a civil action. While this seems like an intuitive process, navigating the California court system can be incredibly challenging for those with no legal experience or training. Missing a filing deadline, failing to make a required appointment, and various other procedural errors can significantly interfere with a case, potentially even leading to a judge throwing it out before it ever really begins.
An experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer will ensure your case filings meet all applicable deadlines with your local courthouse. Your attorney will guide you through the process of developing your complaint, delivering it to the defendant named in your claim, and exploring the full extent of your damages. Ultimately, hiring an Orange County personal injury attorney is an investment in your own peace of mind. You can have the security of knowing your legal affairs are in capable hands while you focus on your recovery.
Proving Negligence in Personal Injury Cases
Your success with your personal injury claim in Orange County hinges on proving the defendant named in your claim was negligent and that their negligence directly resulted in your claimed damages. There are four essential elements your Orange County personal injury attorney must establish in court for you to succeed with your personal injury claim:
- The first step in succeeding with your personal injury lawsuit is identifying the defendant in your case and proving they owed a duty of care in a given situation. For example, an Orange County driver has a duty of care to abide by the traffic code of California and obey posted traffic signs and signals.
- The second step is proving how the defendant failed to meet their duty of care. Following the example of a driver, driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, or committing a moving violation are all potential examples of breach of duty of care.
- Next, the plaintiff’s legal counsel must show the court the full extent of the plaintiff’s damages. These damages will likely include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and/or property damage.
- Finally, the plaintiff’s legal team must prove that the damages listed in the claim resulted directly from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Proving these four elements of negligence in a personal injury case will likely require extensive research and investigation. The plaintiff’s attorney may pull traffic camera footage, dashcam footage, vehicle computer crash data, cell phone records, and various other types of available evidence to build a client’s case. Eyewitness testimony also plays an important role in a personal injury claim. If you sustain a personal injury due to another party’s negligence and another party witnessed the incident, it is imperative to collect their contact information and for your attorney to have them submit testimony on behalf of your claim.
Common Causes of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury is a broad area of civil law. Ultimately, any incident in which one party injures another in a measurable way can result in a personal injury lawsuit. In Orange County, some of the most common causes of personal injury claims include defective consumer products that lead to product liability claims, intrapersonal violence, and motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents are the most common of these, and it’s essential for anyone who experiences a car accident to know what to do to protect their rights and increase their chances of securing a recovery for their damages.
Three Things You Should Know After An Automobile Accident
Get the contact and insurance information of the other driver.
Do not talk to the insurance company or give a written or recorded statement to the insurance company without talking to the Easton & Easton, LLP.
Call Easton & Easton, LLP as soon as possible so we can advise you what to do next.
Personal injury claims can result from many situations aside from car accidents. Negligent security, slip and fall injuries, dog bite injuries, and medical malpractice are a few of the other most common causes of personal injury claims. No matter what caused your personal injury, you need reliable and experienced legal counsel to help you prove fault for your damages and secure the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
Proving Fault and Collecting Compensation in Your Claim
Whether your personal injury case resulted from a car accident or some other incident, you should know what to expect when it comes to your recovery. Take care of your medical needs before anything else, and then contact an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you of the best next steps to take toward your recovery, whether that entails filing an insurance claim against a negligent driver or pursuing a personal injury claim directly.
Your Attorney Can Assist with Insurance Issues
Dealing with insurance companies is rarely an easy or pleasant experience. When insurance companies pay out on claims, they lose money, and they employ highly trained claims adjusters to look for all justification for denying claims or reducing payout amounts on them. It’s never a good idea to communicate with an insurance company without legal representation. This is yet another reason why it is important to seek legal representation from an Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your injury. Most insurance companies require filing claims within a set timeframe after a covered event. Any delay will lead to undue scrutiny on your claim and other delays.
An Orange County personal injury lawyer can not only draft an initial claim to an insurance carrier on your behalf but also handle correspondence with the insurance company and its employees. Insurance companies are far less likely to push back against claimants who have legal representation, so hiring an Orange County personal injury attorney could speed up the claims process significantly if your personal injury resulted from a car accident or other incident covered by another party’s insurance.
Potential Recovery from a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Insurance may or may not fully cover your losses after an injury caused by someone else. In some cases, insurance may not come into play at all. Whether you need more compensation than available insurance coverage can provide, or your personal injury falls outside the scope of any applicable insurance coverage, you will need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for causing your injuries.
Personal injury claims can pertain to all types of physical injuries as well as psychological trauma. Broken bones, head injuries, spinal injuries, and damage to internal organs are just a few of the reasons why people file personal injury claims. Some of these injuries may heal within a few weeks or months with no lasting damage, while others cause permanent disability and impair one’s ability to work or live independently. California law allows personal injury plaintiffs to recover several types of compensatory damages:
- A plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit has the right to seek compensation for all medical costs incurred as a result of a defendant’s negligence. This may include hospital bills, prescription medication costs, and necessary long-term medical expenses such as physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- Plaintiffs can claim lost income if their injuries force them to miss work, or if they sustain serious enough injuries that they can no longer work in the future. An experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer will likely defer to a financial expert witness to provide the court with a realistic breakdown of a plaintiff’s lost future earning potential.
- A personal injury claim can yield compensation for pain and suffering in California. While this may seem difficult to assign a monetary value, the court generally awards pain and suffering compensation that reflects the severity of a plaintiff’s injuries. For example, a plaintiff who completely healed within three to four months after an injury will receive far less in pain and suffering compensation than a plaintiff who was forced to undergo amputation or developed a permanent disability from their injury.
- If a defendant’s behavior damaged or destroyed the plaintiff’s personal property, the plaintiff can claim repair and/or replacement costs as damages in their case.
In the event the court finds a defendant’s behavior to have exceeded the scope of typical negligence, involved criminal activity, or willful disregard for the safety of others, the court may also award punitive damages to the plaintiff. California places no limits or caps on punitive damages, and these damages are paid to a plaintiff alongside their compensatory damages. Typically, wealthy defendants will pay substantially higher punitive damages because this type of compensation exists to punish egregious negligence or criminal actions and discourage such behavior in the future.
California’s Comparative Negligence Law
Many states uphold comparative negligence laws that allow plaintiffs to still recover damages even if they are partially at fault for causing those damages, but only to a certain extent. Most states with comparative negligence laws uphold modified comparative negligence statutes that bar plaintiff recovery if a plaintiff is 50% or more at fault for causing claimed damages.
California follows a pure comparative negligence statute and has no such limit. Even if a plaintiff is 99% at fault for causing claimed damages, they may still claim compensation. However, they lose a percentage of the case value to reflect their degree of fault:
- If a plaintiff is 10% at fault for a $250,000 claim, the plaintiff loses 10% of the case value or $25,000 for a net award of $225,000 instead.
- If a plaintiff is found 50% at fault for a $100,000 claim, the plaintiff loses 50% of the case award and receives $50,000 instead.
- If a plaintiff is 80% at fault in a $1,000,000 claim, the plaintiff loses 80% of the case award and would only receive $200,000. In this situation, the plaintiff’s high fault percentage may leave the plaintiff vulnerable to a counterclaim from the defendant or a third party.
California’s pure comparative negligence statute can be difficult to manage in cases where liability isn’t completely clear. This is yet another reason why it is crucial to seek legal counsel from an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident or other injury caused by another party’s negligence.
What to Expect in Your Personal Injury Claim
Once you have hired an Orange County personal injury lawyer, you can begin building your personal injury lawsuit. The first step is to fully outline the plaintiff’s total damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. The plaintiff’s attorney will help the plaintiff draft a formal complaint, which is filed with the local court and served to the defendant, providing the opportunity for the defendant to offer a Response.
Many personal injury claims end at the settlement negotiation table before reaching the litigation phase. A settlement is typically preferable to a protracted court battle for both sides. The longer the case takes to resolve, the more both parties will end up paying in legal fees and court fees. If the defendant does not contest the elements of the Complaint, the settlement could proceed relatively quickly.
It is typically in the best interest of the defendant to settle the case as quickly as possible. Some defendants may be willing to pay a bit more in a settlement to simply put an end to a personal injury matter and move on. On the same note, some plaintiffs are willing to accept a slightly smaller case award in exchange for expediency, especially when facing mounting medical bills and living expenses. At the same time, they are unable to work due to their injury. An Orange County personal injury attorney will ensure a client’s settlement negotiations proceed in a fair and reasonable direction.
If settlement fails, the case will proceed to a trial. The litigation phase of a personal injury case is very time consuming and could take months or even years to conclude. Litigation requires both sides of the case to share their available evidence and documentation through the Discovery process, to interview witnesses, and conduct cross-examinations. Eventually, the case will proceed to a trial before a judge and jury who will decide the outcome of the case after a thorough review of the available evidence and testimonies.
Find Reliable Legal Counsel for Your Orange County Personal Injury Case
Regardless of how simple or complex your personal injury claim in Orange County may be, hiring an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney to represent your interests is an investment in security and peace of mind. At Easton & Easton, we provide client-focused, comprehensive legal representation for all types of personal injury claims in the Orange County area. In just the past five years, our firm has secured more than $100,000,000 in damages on behalf of our clients. We can put our resources and experience to work in your case.
Contact Easton & Easton today to schedule a complimentary evaluation of your personal injury claim. Our team will listen to your story and let you know how our firm can help and what to expect in your case.