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.
Commonly Reported Causes of Personal Injuries in California
Personal injuries arise suddenly, often leaving victims wondering what they should do first to preserve their ability to recover their damages. In addition, liability may not be immediately clear after your experience, or you could have been injured so severely that you do not remember what happened or who injured you. Whatever your case may entail, the team at Easton & Easton is prepared to handle a wide range of personal injury cases on behalf of our San Bernardino, CA, area clients.
The determining factor as to whether you can file a personal injury claim in California is if another party’s intentional misconduct or negligence directly caused actual harm or some measurable loss. You only have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim against a defendant if that defendant caused actual damage to you. Even if you can prove the defendant was negligent or intentionally harmful, you only have grounds for a claim if you can prove those actions caused damages.
Some of the most common causes of personal injuries that generate civil claims for damages in California include:
- Motor vehicle collisions. California uses a fault-based system to resolve auto accidents, meaning an at-fault driver is liable for damages they cause to others. Auto insurance can potentially offer some initial relief after a car accident, but a personal injury suit is necessary when the victim’s damages exceed the scope of the defendant’s auto insurance coverage.
- Premises liability. If you or someone you love sustained an injury on someone else’s property because of a safety issue the property owner neglected to address, they are liable for your damages. You must prove you were lawfully present where the injury occurred to establish the property owner’s duty of care under California’s premises liability law. This means that a trespasser or intruder cannot file a premises liability claim if they sustain an injury on someone else’s property since they did not have permission to enter the property.
- Defective products. If a defective and/or unreasonably dangerous product causes a personal injury, the manufacturer could be liable under California’s product liability laws. Success with this type of case requires proving that the product in question is defective by design or manufacturing error. Alternatively, a plaintiff may need to prove a product lacked appropriate instructions for use and/or safety indicators. Defective product claims can potentially lead to class-action suits against manufacturers and product recalls.
- Intentional misconduct. California has a relatively high statewide violent crime rate, and other illegal actions like driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol can also cause personal injuries. If your injury happened because of an intentional act of harm or some illegal action by a defendant, they would face criminal charges along with civil liability for your damages.
- Dog attacks. California upholds a strict liability statute for dog attacks, meaning a dog owner is responsible for any damages their pet causes to another person, regardless of whether they had any reason to believe the dog may be dangerous. Similar to premises liability claims, plaintiffs in dog attack cases must prove they were legally present at the locations where their attacks occurred to hold a dog owner accountable under the strict liability statute.
However your personal injury occurred, you should address your immediate medical concerns and then reach out to legal representation you can trust to help you determine the best way to initiate your recovery efforts. Depending on how and why your accident happened, you could have more recovery options available to you than you realize, and a good San Bernardino personal injury attorney will assist you to take full advantage of all of them.
Filing an Insurance Claim After an Auto Accident in California
Car accidents are a chief cause of personal injury claims in California, but you typically must file an insurance claim against an at-fault driver prior to initiating civil claim proceedings. California law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. Every auto insurance policy in California must include at least:
- $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person.
- $30,000 in total accident liability coverage for a single accident.
- $5,000 in property damage liability coverage.
While not strictly required by state law, drivers in California are encouraged to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as well. This type of coverage comes into effect when the policyholder experiences an accident caused by another driver who does not have appropriate insurance coverage. If possible, you should obtain an at-fault driver’s insurance details immediately after an accident. Most insurance companies require notification of intent to file a claim within a day or two following a covered event. You will also need to notify your own insurance company of the accident, even if you are not at fault.
Your San Bernardino personal injury attorney will assist you with filing your auto insurance claim. Every insurance company has a professional responsibility to process all claims for coverage in good faith. However, dealing with insurance companies can be very stressful, and you have a limited window in which to report your accident and file your claim. Therefore, it is generally best to consult legal counsel as quickly as possible after your injury. Your attorney can assist you with filing your auto insurance claim, resolve any disputes that might arise between you and the insurance company, and help you maximize your settlement check.
A severe accident could easily result in damages that eclipse the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. Insurance is also not always available in response to every personal injury a person might suffer in California. Whether you have exhausted available insurance coverage and face outstanding losses, or you cannot file any insurance claims after your injury, an experienced San Bernardino personal injury attorney will assist you in building your personal injury case against the party or parties responsible for causing your damages.
Proving Fault for Your Personal Injury in San Bernardino, CA
Personal injury claims revolve around acts of intentional misconduct or negligence. The term “negligence” applies whenever a party fails to uphold a specific duty of care or fails to exercise reasonable care and caution in a specific situation. The defendant does not necessarily need to act with intent to harm the victim to face liability for the victim’s personal injury. However, any defendant who does cause a personal injury through willful misconduct is likely to face criminal charges along with civil liability for the damages they cause to others.
Proving fault will require different strategies in every personal injury case. For example, successfully establishing liability for your damages may require physical evidence from the scene where your injury occurred, securing witness testimony from people who saw the incident in question, or consulting expert witnesses who can provide valuable professional insights and explain the complex details of your case in understandable ways.
When you choose Easton & Easton to handle your personal injury claim in San Bernardino, we will immediately begin researching the details of your injury, identify any witnesses who may be able to support your claim, and secure any physical evidence we can use to strengthen your claim. Once you have successfully established liability for your damages, our team will then assist you in proving the full extent of all your claimable losses, maximizing your case award.
Economic Damages Available to California Personal Injury Plaintiffs
California state law allows the plaintiff in a civil claim for damages to seek full repayment of all economic losses they suffered because of the defendant’s actions. Your attorney can assist you in calculating your economic damages, which include those you sustain immediately following your injury and those you face in the future. Your claimable economic damages in a San Bernardino personal injury suit may include:
- Medical treatment costs following your injury, such as your hospital bills and emergency transportation fees, immediately following the incident in question.
- Ongoing medical expenses for severe injuries. Some personal injuries cause severe debilitating harm to victims, leaving them facing very demanding and painful recoveries. The defendant in your claim is responsible for any and all future medical treatment you will require for the injuries they caused.
- Lost wages. Many victims of personal injuries are unable to work until they recover. Some can work, but experience diminished earning power from their injuries. If you were forced to miss work and/or use accrued vacation time after your injury, the defendant is liable for reimbursing these lost wages.
- Lost future earning capacity. Unfortunately, some personal injuries cause permanent disabilities. If a defendant has left you or a loved one unable to work at all in the future, they are responsible for all the future income you would have reasonably expected to earn if your injury had not happened.
- Property losses. When the defendant has damaged your personal property, they are responsible for paying for repairs or replacing anything they destroyed. It is also possible to claim lost profits as property losses in a personal injury suit when a defendant has caused an injury to a business owner.
While the average person may be able to calculate their immediately recognizable losses, like hospital bills and vehicle repair costs, they are likely to struggle with calculating long-term and projected future losses. This is yet another reason to hire an experienced San Bernardino personal injury attorney to handle your case. You may be surprised to learn you can claim various forms of compensation you would have overlooked without their counsel.
Pain and Suffering Compensation in Your Personal Injury Claim
The economic recovery you secure with your attorney’s help could be substantial, but if you suffered any severe injury resulting in long-term or permanent harm, you could be entitled to even more expansive recovery from these non-economic damages. Calculating pain and suffering may seem difficult, but a good attorney can use various methods to determine a suitable amount for your situation.
When a plaintiff’s injuries are expected to heal completely with minimal long-term or permanent harm, their attorney may seek a “per diem” pain and suffering arrangement that awards a set amount of compensation each day until they reach maximum medical improvement. However, when a plaintiff has suffered catastrophic injuries resulting in permanent harm, their attorney would be more likely to use a multiplier method. They would multiply their client’s claimed economic damages by a factor representing the severity of their condition. For example, if the plaintiff faces several years of complications that are likely to resolve over time, their attorney may use a multiplier factor of two or three. If the plaintiff faces a lifelong disability and permanently diminished quality of life, their attorney could seek a factor of five or more.
Easton & Easton will help you maximize the non-economic damages you obtain from your personal injury case in San Bernardino. When a defendant’s actions have caused tremendous physical pain, psychological suffering, and long-term damage to your quality of life, we can assist your effort to hold them accountable for your tangible and intangible losses.
Factors That Might Complicate Your Personal Injury Suit
Anyone who intends to pursue a personal injury claim in San Bernardino needs to keep a few details in mind as they prepare to file their claim. First is California’s pure comparative negligence law. This law upholds that if a plaintiff is partially liable for their claimed damages, they can still recover compensation from the defendant. However, they lose part of their recovery to reflect their shared fault. For example, bearing 10% fault in a $500,000 claim would result in losing $50,000 or 10% of the case award.
It is also possible for a plaintiff’s recovery to increase at the discretion of the judge with punitive damages awarded to punish defendants for egregious negligence or willful misconduct that may not necessarily qualify for criminal prosecution. If a defendant faces criminal charges for causing a personal injury, they will likely face restitution to the victim as an element of their sentence.
Your San Bernardino personal injury attorney will advise you as to whether criminal court proceedings against the defendant could unfold in tandem with your civil suit. If so, Easton & Easton can advise you as to how to best proceed with your case and what to expect if you must participate as a witness in a criminal court case. Ultimately, every personal injury case is unique, and you need an attorney capable of addressing the obstacles between you and your recovery. Easton & Easton has years of experience resolving very complex and hotly contested personal injury claims in Southern California, and we’re ready to put this experience to work in your case.
What to Expect From Your San Bernardino Personal Injury Attorney
It’s understandable to feel daunted by the legal proceedings you face after a personal injury in San Bernardino. However, the right attorney will help you feel more at ease with your situation and guide you in making more informed decisions about your recovery efforts. When you choose Easton & Easton to handle your personal injury case in San Bernardino, we will begin by carefully reviewing how, where, and why your injury occurred.
Once we have identified the defendant or defendants bearing responsibility for your damages, we’ll help you gather the evidence needed to form a solid case. Our team will then help you calculate the full scope of economic damages you can include in your complaint. Finally, when a client has grounds to seek pain and suffering compensation, we will do everything we can to maximize this aspect of their recovery.
The vast majority of personal injury claims filed in California end with privately negotiated settlements between plaintiffs and defendants. A swift settlement benefits both parties by allowing them to avoid expensive, stressful, and time-consuming litigation. If both parties are willing to compromise, it’s possible to resolve a personal injury suit relatively quickly with compelling evidence and an attorney you can trust.
The attorneys at Easton & Easton have handled multifaceted personal injury suits of all kinds for our clients. We know how to identify every channel of recovery available to the victim of a personal injury and how to prove the full scope of their claimable losses. We will work hard to settle your claim as quickly as possible, but when litigation is unavoidable, you can expect our team to defend you in civil court proceedings.
Time is a crucial consideration for anyone considering filing a personal injury claim in California. Reaching out to legal counsel as quickly as possible gives your legal counselor more time to prepare your case and explore your recovery options. Regardless of what your personal injury claim entails, Easton & Easton can be the San Bernardino personal injury attorneys you need to recover as fully as possible from your experience.
Personal Injury Law FAQs
Q: When Would You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in San Bernardino?
A: It is always best to seek reliable legal counsel if you are unsure whether you have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim. Some civil suits can be resolved relatively easily, but even a claim involving modest damages deserves the attention of an experienced attorney. Easton & Easton can evaluate the details of the personal injury you recently experienced to help you determine the potential value of your claim.
Q: Is It Worth Hiring a San Bernardino Personal Injury Attorney?
A: Technically, you may be able to file and even win a personal injury suit in California without an attorney. However, doing so would be far more difficult than many people would expect. You would be compelled to meet very strict procedural demands with the court while simultaneously working to recover from your injury. Selecting experienced legal counsel makes it easier to take care of your recovery efforts and will also make them more likely to win.
Q: How Long Do I Have to Pursue a Personal Injury Suit in California?
A: California law allows for a two-year statute of limitations on most personal injury claims. This time limit begins on the date a personal injury occurs. However, the statute of limitations may toll or delay if the cause of a personal injury isn’t immediately discernible. Therefore, it is generally best to consult legal counsel as soon as your medical condition stabilizes after a personal injury to ensure you meet all procedural deadlines that apply in your case.
Q: How Much Does a San Bernardino Personal Injury Attorney Cost to Hire?
A: It’s understandable to have concerns about the potential cost of your legal representation. When you choose Easton & Easton to handle your personal injury suit in San Bernardino, we will accept your case on a contingency fee basis. This means you will not pay any upfront legal fees. Instead, our fee will come out of your final case award as a percentage. This policy ensures our legal services are available to those who need them most.
Q: Is It Really Worth Hiring a San Bernardino Personal Injury Lawyer?
A: You might assume that you could resolve your civil suit on your own, or you may have doubts as to whether your damages justify filing a personal injury claim. In either case, it is always worth consulting legal counsel you can trust if you want to take full advantage of all your options for legal recourse after a personal injury. Even after accounting for the cost of your legal fees, your attorney can add tremendous value to your claim.
The attorneys at Easton & Easton have years of experience representing personal injury clients in San Bernardino and the surrounding communities of Southern California. We know all the various challenges your case may present and the obstacles you are likely to face in all your recovery efforts. To take legal action in response to a personal injury you recently suffered, a San Bernardino personal injury attorney is the ideal resource to consult in this difficult situation. Contact Easton & Easton today and schedule your free consultation with a reliable team of attorneys who can confidently guide you through your case.