Personal injury claims may be brought up against anyone. 400,000 personal injury claims are filed each year in the U.S. alone. However, only 4% of these claims go to court. Oftentimes, personal injury claims are settled between the injured party and the insurance company without any court involvement. Personal injury claims can be filed against business owners, landlords, property owners, the local or state government, or individuals. When defending against personal injury claims, one must prove that there is no duty of care owed, that the injured party was responsible for their own injury, or the injured party had assumed the risk. . Luckily, it is on the plaintiff or victim of the injury to prove the negligence of the defendant.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim? Defending Against Personal Injury Claims
A personal injury claim is a very broad section of injury law that may be broken down into specific categories. Some of these include slip and fall incidents, corporal injury claims, and even assault. These claims are meant to recover whatever loss the victim may have suffered as a result of their injury. However, the party that is being sued over the injury will try to prove that the incident was either the victim’s fault or only partially the fault of the owner. Without the proper attorney, the party being sued stands to lose much more than the party that was injured. If done correctly, the party being sued could actually recover damages from the injured party if they can prove they were not at fault. Defending against personal injury claims in California is almost impossible without the proper legal help.
Duty of Care
Duty of care can be understood as, “everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person.” This is defined by California civil code 1714 (a). With this definition in mind, if you can prove that duty of care was not owed to the victim, the injury claim will have no basis. There are numerous ways this could be done, but the following are some common examples.
The first being the closeness(1) between the defendant and the injured party. If Casey was injured walking across a public street maintained by the city, she cannot sue the mall that has no control over the intersection. They would instead have to file a claim with the local government. Another is how apparent or foreseeable harm is likely to occur to someone. Perhaps the plaintiff was standing in a parking lot and touching a light pole during a thunderstorm, do not do this. In a freak occurrence, the pole is struck and the plaintiff is now injured and wishes to sue the shopping center in charge of the lot. This is unreasonable because it would not be a foreseeable occurrence. While certainly not the last, another argument could concern the certainty that the plaintiff was actually injured. If the plaintiff walked into the store, slipped onto the carpet, and claimed a week-old bruise was caused by the fall, the store could try to prove that there was no injury due to the fall. If they could make the credibility of the injury questionable, the case would be more likely to go in their favor.
Responsibility for the Injury During a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury claims are meant to decide who was negligent or responsible for an injury. The defendant of a personal injury claim can try to prove they were not responsible for an injury to have a case dismissed. This would be contributory negligence. An example of contributory negligence is as follows. Jane is shopping for a new car at the dealership. After speaking with a salesman, she gets upset at the price of a vehicle and kicks the car. In doing so, she sprains her ankle. In this case, a reasonable person would not kick a car. Therefore, her negligence contributed to the injury and was not the fault of the dealership. Another argument is that the defendant was only partially responsible. This would be comparative negligence. Comparative negligence works similar to car insurance decisions. Based on the evidence presented, the blame will be split between the defendant and the plaintiff. For instance, James walks into the store and sees an aisle sign hanging loosely. James then pokes the sign which falls on his head concussing him. While the sign was loose and should be fixed, James should not have poked the sign. Therefore blame could be partially on James and partially on the store in a 30% and 70% split respectively.
Assuming the Risk of Injury
Personal injury claims can be dismissed or mitigated by proving that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury through their actions. This could be shown in a couple of ways seen in everyday life. Risk of injury is posted on signs for pools, construction site warnings, and especially in a liability waiver. In any situation, a sign or waiver is not a guarantee of personal injury claim dismissal. Even after these, the defendant owes it to the plaintiff to ensure some duty of care is taken in preventing their harm. For instance, even if the plaintiff signed a waiver to play a contact sport, if a dangerous technique were employed and the plaintiff was injured, this could be considered something unreasonable and preventable that the waiver cannot extend to. Below is an example that could prove the party assumed a risk of injury that could be considered comparative negligence or complete fault on the plaintiff’s side.
John is going to his morning construction job. When he arrives, John discovers he forgot his hard hat. In his work contract and all over the worksite on signs, it is stated that everyone must wear a hardhat at all times. John does not want to be late, so he ignores this and walks to his station. On the way, a small chunk of debris falls on his head and causes a concussion. John’s hardhat would have prevented this from happening and the signage and contract informed him of the risk he assumed. While this would be John’s fault on the surface, it is important to remember that if a supervisor saw John and told him it was alright to continue, the fault could be split if not completely the construction company’s fault.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim?
The California statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is six months, two years, or three years based on the situation. If you are seeking compensation for bodily injury, the statute is two years under California civil code 335.1. This section falls under the larger section of general bodily injury claims. If you are filing a claim against a government entity, such as a city, county or California state government agency, the statute of limitations is six months from the incident. If you are seeking payment for repairs or replacement of property damage, you will have three years to file your case under code 338. While the court process may exceed the statute, you must file before the above time has passed.
When defending against personal injury claims, it is important to have a good personal injury defense lawyer to get the best results. The right lawyer could save the defendant hundreds, thousands, or even more! This is all contingent upon proving that negligence of the personal injury is on the plaintiff and not the defendant.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been involved in a personal injury accident, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.