If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, whether accidental or intentional, our skilled attorneys at U.S. Law Center are ready to help you fight for your right to compensation. The term “personal injury” can refer to both physical and emotional injuries, both of which can cause stress and require you to make life adjustments. The experienced personal injury lawyers on our team can reduce the level of stress you are experiencing after an injury by helping you through the process of filing a personal injury claim, as well as representing you in a trial if necessary.
U.S. Law Center is prepared to handle personal injury cases of all kinds. Some of the most common personal injury cases involve:
This list is not exhaustive. If you believe you have been injured due to the negligence of another party or company, contact U.S. Law Center to discuss your case and learn about your rights.
In California, a person can recover damages that resulted from a personal injury if they can prove negligence on the part of another party for causing the injury. By law, negligence is an action or failure to act by a defendant who owes a duty of care to a plaintiff. Generally, if a person’s carelessness causes injury to another person, they may be legally liable for the resulting harm.
The duty of care depends on the relationship between the injured and the person at fault. In cases such as medical malpractice, the relationship is easy to determine, such as a doctor causing harm to a patient. In many personal injury cases, however, the relationship is not established beforehand, like in the case of a car accident between two strangers or a store owner who failed to ensure their premises was free of tripping hazards and safe for customers.
California requires five elements to be present to prove negligence:
To better understand how negligence is proven, let’s look at a scenario where all five elements are met. Consider a customer who slips on an area of spilled juice that was unmarked at a grocery store, resulting in a significant lower back injury. Just because the customer fell at the store doesn’t automatically prove negligence, but an investigation into the situation may prove that the store is liable. Here is how each element applies in this case:
In this case, negligence could be proven, and the plaintiff should be awarded compensation for the damages that resulted from the fall.
Defamation, also known as “defamation of character,” is the term for any false statement that harms a person’s reputation. Though it is not a physical injury, defamation is considered a personal injury. Defamation cases differ a bit from other types of personal injury cases because they focus less on negligence and more on the determination of whether the defendant made the statement with malice, knowing it was false.
California law recognizes two types of defamation, known as libel and slander. These terms indicate whether the statement was made in writing (libel) or verbally (slander). A plaintiff must prove five elements to form a defamation claim:
Breaking down these elements can help you determine whether you may be able to file a defamation claim.
A publication of a statement includes verbal or written communication of a statement presented as a fact. Communication could be made to a single person or a group of people, but the third party must understand the meaning of the statement and how it applies to the person the statement is referencing. An opinion alone does not count as defamation. There must be a factual implication or a fact tied to the opinion for it to be considered defamation.
In California defamation cases, the plaintiff must provide evidence that proves the statement in question is false. In some cases, people want to claim defamation when others are spreading a rumor about them. Unfortunately, if the rumor is true, there is no defamation. For private matters, the burden of proving the truth lies on the defendant. In public matters, the plaintiff is required to prove the claim is false.
This element means the person who made the false statement did not have a right to make the statement to a third party. California law indicates a person has the privilege of revealing information in certain cases, such as in a legal proceeding, when discharging an official, or when malice was not intended.
In California, defamation falls under two categories: defamation “per se” or defamation “per quod.”
Statements that are so damaging that the person doesn’t need to prove actual damages are considered defamation “per se.” An example of defamation “per se” could be a statement published by a local newspaper that indicates a person sexually abused a child when that is not true. This statement is clearly damaging to a person’s reputation, without further explanation needed.
Defamation “per quod,” on the other hand, consists of statements that require proof of damages. Evidence is required to show that the statement caused damages such as lost profits, being fired, or decreased traffic to your business. An example of a defamation “per quod” could be someone making a false claim that a dentist is not fit for their job. The dentist would need to prove that the claim resulted in a loss of business for a successful defamation case.
The components of this element depend on whether the case involves private individuals or public figures. Private individuals must prove the defendant was negligent in making the defamatory statement, while a public figure must absolutely prove the statement made about them is false. Public figures also need to prove the malicious intent of the person who made the statement.
Personal injury scenarios can all lead victims to burden major expenses, or a loss of anticipated income, that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. A successful personal injury claim can result in compensation for expenses such as:
First Steps: Seek Care and Gather Evidence
If you have been injured, the first step is to seek medical care to address your injuries. This is important for your health and for a future legal claim since your medical file will be a large part of the evidence in your case. Calling the police to make sure an accident report is filed as soon as possible is also important when it comes to supporting evidence.
Gathering supporting documentation and evidence is the next step in preparing to file a personal injury claim. This will include an accident report and medical records, as well as any other evidence you can obtain. If possible, get photos of the scene where the accident took place and get statements and contact information from witnesses of the accident to support your claim. Be sure to also keep a record of any expenses you incur following your injury, including documentation of missed work resulting in lost wages.
Next Steps: Talk to a Lawyer and File Your Claim
Once your injuries have been medically addressed, you have gathered some evidence on your own, and you are considering filing a personal injury claim, the next best step is to talk to a lawyer. Find an attorney experienced in personal injury law and share the details of your case with them so they can provide counsel regarding your options. A lawyer can use your evidence and documentation and also obtain additional supporting evidence if needed.
After your attorney completes their investigation and determines who is at fault for the injury, they will send a demand for compensation to the liable party. If they deny or ignore this request, your attorney will file a formal claim for damages. This signals to the court that you are seeking compensation from the party responsible for your injuries, which means the defendant will now be obligated to respond to the claim.
Final Steps: Discovery and Settlement or Trial
Next comes the discovery phase of your case. Once the defendant answers the filed claim, both parties examine the evidence provided by each side. This phase often includes further evidence gathering through witness depositions. Your lawyer uses information gathered in this phase to support their initial investigation of the case.
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court. After the discovery phase comes the opportunity to negotiate a settlement if you and the defendant do not want to take the case to trial. When you agree to accept a settlement, you are also agreeing to no longer pursue a claim in court. An attorney is especially helpful in this stage to ensure what you are offered in a settlement is fair and comparable to what others have been offered in situations similar to yours.
If a settlement cannot be reached outside of court, you have the right to take the case to a trial. Even though you may hope your case doesn’t get to the point of a trial, it is important to consider the possibility early on when you are choosing which lawyer to hire. If your case does go to trial, you want an attorney on your side who is experienced in personal injury trial cases so you get the best outcome possible.
Having an experienced Riverside personal injury attorney on your side is important when facing a personal injury lawsuit. Self-representation in a personal injury case can lead to costly mistakes, so hiring a skilled lawyer pays off in the long run. Trusted personal injury attorneys, like those at U.S. Law Center, can establish the evidence required to prove liability and communicate the impact your injuries have had on your life to get you the compensation you deserve.
Consulting with a lawyer regarding any settlements you may be offered is also crucial. Insurance companies often try to settle personal injury claims quickly while attempting to appear they are acting in the best interest of the injured. However, they also want to get the best financial deal for their company. So, even if a settlement looks appealing to you, consult with our team to determine whether the offer is fair and comparable to other similar settlement cases before accepting.
If you are on the receiving end of a personal injury claim as the defendant, we can also support your defense. Our team will complete an investigation to determine whether there is evidence to show you did not cause a plaintiff’s injury through negligence.
A: Many California attorneys work on contingency fees. This means you do not owe the firm anything unless your case ends in a settlement or a winning trial. In California, personal injury lawyers typically earn 33%, or one-third, of the jury award or settlement in a case. For example, if your case resulted in a $150,000 settlement, your attorney would likely receive around $50,000 of that.
A: “Shopping around” to find a personal injury lawyer who is right for you is a good idea. You want to find an attorney who is skilled and experienced in personal injury specifically, such as the team at U.S. Law Center. Important questions to ask include:
A: First, it is important to know you typically have two years from the time of an accident to file a personal injury claim, though waiting that long is not recommended. After filing, if your case does not end in a settlement, a lawsuit and court trial may be necessary. The length of a lawsuit can vary widely from case to case. Once a claim is filed, the defendant is served within 60 days and then has 30-45 days to provide a response. Just getting an initial response can take as long as three to four months. From there, mediation or a trial can take anywhere from a few months to two years.
A: Although filing a personal injury claim can be stressful, it is often worth it in California due to state laws that protect your right to recover fair compensation for damages you’ve suffered from an injury. Without filing a claim, you cannot obtain compensation from the liable party or their insurance company. This means your damages could add up, and you could lose money to medical expenses and lack of ability to work, so filing is crucial to ensure your financial stability.
A: If you have a work visa and are a lawfully admitted resident alien in U.S., you do have the right to sue for personal injury as a U.S. citizen. If you are injured on the job, reach out to an attorney to determine whether it can be proven your injury was caused due to the negligence of a third party. At U.S. Law Center, we specialize in helping those entering the U.S. from other countries, so we are ready to help you navigate a legal system you may not yet understand.
A: In California, there are comparative fault laws. This means you can seek compensation for damages that resulted from an injury in an accident you were partially at fault for. However, the defendant will likely use your own actions against you in court, so it is important to seek the representation of an attorney to support you in a partially at-fault case.
Have you been injured in a Riverside accident? If so, you may be entitled to compensation from the party responsible for your injury. It is important to act quickly in personal injury cases as there are legal timelines to comply with, and gathering evidence closer to the time of the accident is easier than gathering it much later after the fact. You and your family are adjusting to life after injury, and adding a legal battle to your plate may seem daunting. Our team can help you navigate the legal system and get you and your family the financial support you need.
U.S. Law Center can help you get the compensation you deserve after suffering a personal injury due to someone’s carelessness or negligence. Our attorneys are experienced in personal injury law, and we are committed to helping you understand your options when it comes to your rights and your case. Members of our team are fluent in multiple languages, and we specialize in immigrant issues, so if you are new to the country and our legal system, U.S. Law Center can support you through your personal injury case. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.