Personal injury is an injury to a person that affects his or her physical body and/or emotional state of mind as opposed to an injury to a person’s property. The most common form of a personal injury act is based on negligence of another party. To prove a negligence claim there are four elements to be satisfied.
The first is duty of care which is a legal obligation that requires an individual to perform as a reasonable, prudent person in acts that could cause harm. In many situations, the duty of care standard is based on a city, county or state rule or law.
The second element is breach of that duty of care. An example is while driving a car the duty of care is to stop at a red signal light. A breach of the duty of care is if one fails to stop and proceeds into the intersection.
The third element is causation. It must be shown that the act of the defendant caused the damages to the injured party. This element can be proven with either direct or proximate causation. Direct causation is where the direct acts of the defendant cause the injuries to the person. Proximate causation is where the defendant is liable for only the damages that are foreseeable from his or her actions.
The final element of a negligence claim is damages. Damages places a monetary value to the harm that the injury caused. There are three types of damages.
The first type is special or economic damages. Special or economic damages are damages that can be quantified due to the negligence acts by a defendant. These damages included past medical bills, future medical treatment costs, loss of earnings, and loss of earnings potential.
Another type of damages is general or non-economic damages. General damages have no receipt or invoices but is awarded based on one’s pain and suffering due to the defendant’s negligence actions.
The final type is punitive damages also known as exemplary damages. Punitive damages is a way to punish defendants for their actions. Mere negligence is not enough in a case to receive punitive damages. There needs to be an intentional, wanton, reckless, or malicious act for a judge or jury to award punitives in a case.
If you believe that you have suffered an injury to negligence of another person, it is highly advisable to consult a California personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
The Beliz Law Firm is a vehicle accident and personal injury attorney serving clients in the cities of Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.