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How do I file a personal injury lawsuit in California?

You can make a claim against another party in California if they are at fault for your injuries. In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person's negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. "Personal injury" is a term that encompasses claims by individuals for damages to their health, emotional well ­being and reputation. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent and that such negligence was a cause of your injury. California follows a pure comparative negligence rule: a claimant's negligence reduces his recovery but will never bar recovery. A claimant's negligence diminishes his recovery by his percentage of fault.

Worker’s Compensation
Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury. For example, workplace injuries generally are covered by worker's compensation benefits, which compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and impairments, without regard to fault by anyone. A claim can also be made if the accident was caused by a third party but occurred during usual work duties or was work related.

Automobile Accidents
Generally, people who operate motor vehicles must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Failure to use reasonable care is the basis for most lawsuits for damages caused by an automobile accident. In these cases, proof of fault is often contested and requires thorough investigation. A driver may also be liable for an accident caused by intentional or reckless conduct. A reckless driver is one who drives unsafely, with willful disregard for the probability that the driving may cause an accident.

Injury on Private Premises
If you were injured at someone else’s home or at a commercial establishment, the person responsible for the premises may be found liable. You will need to prove that the injury was caused by an unsafe condition that the owner should have known of and corrected before the accident. In a typical private property injury claim, the injured person must show that the person responsible for the premises was negligent in the design, construction or maintenance of the property. There are various degrees regarding the standard of care owed by a property owner. Whether you are a licensee, an invitee, or a trespasser, the amount of duty an owner owes can be higher or lower.The standard of care a property owner owes to a trespasser is usually less than that owed to a person who has permission to be on the property, such as an invitee or licensee. An invitee is a person invited for business purposes, and a licensee is one who was invited by the owner for non-business purposes.

Injury on Public Premises
Claims for injuries caused by an unsafe condition on public property are subject to strict claims requirements and liability is only established in certain circumstances. For lawsuits brought against public entities, there are statutes which often require lawsuits be brought within a very short period of time, and only after written notice of the injury has been given to the government. California statute of limitations requires you file a claim against a government agency within 6 months of the date of injury.

Product Liability
Injury can result from defective products, as well. When a company designs and manufactures a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care within the expected parameters of usage expected for the product will not be injured. In a product injury case, you do not have to prove the manufacturer was negligent. You only have to prove that the product was defective or that the manufacturer did not provide sufficient warning of potential risks or failed to provide adequate instructions. This concept is called strict product liability. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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