A personal injury case is a type of civil lawsuit that can be filed by an accident victim to seek financial compensation from one or more responsible parties. A successful personal injury claim in Orange County could lead to the financial recovery that you need to move on from a harmful accident. Determining whether you have grounds for a personal injury case requires assessing its specific elements.
Negligence or Wrongful Conduct
The majority of personal injury claims in California are founded on the legal principle of negligence. A person is negligent if he or she fails to exercise reasonable care, or the level of care that a prudent person would have used in the same circumstances. When negligence results in injury or death to another person, the victim or victim’s family has the right to pursue justice through a civil personal injury claim.
Evidence of four key elements is required to bring a negligence-based personal injury case:
- Duty of care: the accused party (the defendant) must have had a legal obligation or responsibility to act with reasonable care.
- Breach of duty: the defendant must have violated the duty of care that was owed, such as with a careless or reckless act or omission.
- Causation: the defendant’s breach of the duty of care must be the proximate or actual cause of the victim’s (plaintiff’s) injuries.
- Damages: the negligent actions of the defendant must have resulted in compensable losses suffered by the plaintiff, such as physical injuries, emotional distress, medical bills or lost wages.
It is also possible to base a personal injury claim on misconduct or a wrongful act, such as a broken law or malicious intent to harm. However, criminal intent is not a required element of proof in a civil personal injury case. The necessary elements of a claim must be established based on a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to prove that the defendant is more likely than not to be at fault for the accident and injury being claimed.
Statute of Limitations in California
If you believe you have the required elements for a personal injury case in California, the next question to ask is if you are inside of your statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a state law that imposes a deadline on a victim’s right to file a personal injury claim. In California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident, in most cases.
If you wish to hold a government entity responsible for your injuries, however, you will have just six months to file under the California Tort Claims Act. It is important to speak to an attorney about a potential injury case as soon as possible to avoid missing your deadline, as attempting to file too late could bar you from making a financial recovery.
Contact an Attorney to Find Out if You Have a Claim
To find out if you have grounds for a personal injury case after a harmful accident in Orange County, bring all of the information and documents you have that are related to the injury to a free case evaluation at Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian. Our personal injury lawyers will listen to your story and determine whether your case has merit. Contact us today to schedule a free case review.