Think You Can Win Your Personal Injury Case in California? Here's What You Need to Prove.
One constant over the many years and thousands of injuries, accidents and cases I have handled is that no two personal injury claims are alike. Anyone can be injured in an infinite number of ways, and in an infinite number of circumstances. Regardless of the unique nature of every injury claim, all cases require the same issues to be proven: First, that someone was at fault, and Second, every element of your damages must be identified, documented and proven in order to win your case. These are called "Liability" and "Damages."
Was there a negligent act by another person? Negligence is the failure to act with due care. The negligent act can be careless driving causing a collision; allowing a foreign material to remain on a floor that causes someone to fall; a doctor failing to follow a standard of care causing a patient injury or death; or any other conduct or act done unreasonably or unsafely where it is foreseeable that it is likely to cause injury to another person.
Is the conduct one of strict liability, where the conduct creates fault by operation of law. A dog bite claim is one of strict liability, where the dog owner is liable for his dog biting someone else, regardless of whether the owner of the dog was negligent or not. A defective product claim is also one of strict liability. The manufacturer or designer of the defective produce does not have to be negligent to be at fault. The proven fact of the defect itself is proof of fault.
The conduct in question must cause harm, injury or damage. In the case of a motor vehicle collision, it could be property damage to the car or a personal injury to the driver or passenger. In the case of a slip and fall, the personal injury from falling is the harm. In the case of a defective product, again, a bodily injury to the user of the product or a bystander to the use of the product is the harm. In a medical negligence claim, the result of the negligence must be an injury to the patient that would not have occurred if the medical provider had not committed the negligent act. The common link is that the conduct must be a substantial factor in causing injury, harm or loss to another person.
The blame for causing the injury or harm can be due to one other party or can be divided among several negligent parties. The harm can arise from a single negligent act or multiple negligent acts. The duty of the lawyer is to determine all of the potential defendants or parties responsible for the harm, all acts committed that caused or contributed to the harm, and determining the nature and extent of all injuries, damages or harms that were caused.
The injury or harm must be distinguished from any other source or cause of injury. If you have a pre-existing condition or injury that is aggravated or made worse by a negligent act of another party, the negligent party is not responsible for the pre-existing injury or condition. The negligent person is responsible for the aggravation of the pre-existing condition and any new injury or condition superimposed upon the old condition. This is very complex and will depend upon the expertise of your doctor or other medical witnesses.
The injury or harm from a negligent act must also be distinguished from any subsequent or later acquired injury. This can happen if you are injured in an accident, and then get into another accident later on that also injures you. The facts as well as medical witnesses must be able to distinguish injuries and harms from the negligent act versus injuries and harms from unrelated events.
The difference between truth and proof: EVERYTHING MUST BE DOCUMENTED.
What actually happens to the victim in an injury producing event, the pain they feel, the effect the injury has on their life and livelihood, and what they do about it is the truth. Unfortunately, no insurance company claims representative and no jury will ever really know what you, the victim, have gone through and how you have suffered. Not really. What is important in any personal injury claim, more important than the truth, is the proof. To the extent that, through witnesses, documents, photographs, evidence and expert testimony you or your attorney can prove what happened to you, the nature and extent of every injury, harm and loss you suffered, and the closer that proof matches the truth, the better will be your result, whether through settlement or trial. You must always keep in mind that everything you claim must be proven. Without proof no insurance company will be willing to pay you money for your injuries. Without proof, no jury will render a verdict in your favor. And your proof must be for both how and why the defendant was at fault and how the defendant’s conduct caused your injuries, harms and losses. In that regard, documentation, documentation, documentation is everything.
Feel free to contact us, or submit your personal injury case for a free review. We value your privacy. Your submission is confidential. We do not share your information with anyone. 818 716-6400.
We represent personal injury clients throughout California. Our local communities are the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange. Local cities include Woodland Hills, Encino, Van Nuys, Chatsworth, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, North Hollywood, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Sylmar, Valencia, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Oxnard, Newbury Park, Lancaster, Long Beach, West Covina, Duarte, Pomona, El Monte, Downey, Palos Verdes, Canyon Country, Valencia.