Northern California lawyer Robert Meissner represents plaintiffs in a wide range of personal injury lawsuits throughout the Sacramento area. Many aspects of this area of law, such as wrongful death, medical malpractice, and work-related injuries, and injuries that require an attorney are addressed in more depth elsewhere on this website; this page examines the general theory of personal injury liability.
Contact our Sacramento Personal Injury lawyer Robert Meissner because you have rights that he, and no insurance adjuster, will advise you of.
The primary theory behind any personal injury lawsuit is that the defendant was responsible in some way for an injury to the plaintiff. A claim of negligence has four elements:
- Breach of Duty
Duty and Breach
We owe duties to drive carefully and not recklessly, to keep our property in good repair and free of dangerous hazards, to provide a safe working environment, and to perform our jobs with the skill and care expected of people with like education and training. Any time our actions — or failure to act — fall below the level of behavior expected of an ordinary, reasonable person in a similar situation, that duty is said to have been breached.
Whether or not the defendant’s breach was the factual and legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries can often prove a complicated issue. Both parties may present a different set of facts, or the same facts interpreted in different lights, and the jury must determine which version of the facts is more accurate. Also, there are limits to the liability the law will impose on actions which, although negligent, cause injuries which are so unforeseeable that the courts will not hold the defendant liable.
Recoverable damages are usually categorized as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages are computable items such as medical expenses and lost wages, while non-economic damages include such things as pain and suffering and emotional distress which are difficult to quantify, and vary according to the nature and severity of the injury and surrounding circumstances. Other damages can include attorney’s fees and court costs when authorized by statute, or punitive damages, which may be available in cases where the defendant’s actions were willful, malicious, or particularly egregious.
As a general rule, non-economic damages may not be alleged unless there was an underlying physical injury. Exceptions to this rule include cases of negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Traditionally, the theory of contributory negligence would cut off any liability of the defendant if the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the accident or injuries. However, California has adopted a theory of pure comparative negligence, in which the plaintiff and defendant are each allocated a percentage of responsibility. No matter how great a plaintiff’s negligence may have been, he or she may still recover from a negligent defendant for the remaining portion of responsibility.
The statute of limitations also operates to limit liability. If a plaintiff does not file a lawsuit within a certain time frame, he or she is forever barred from bringing suit. In most personal injury actions, the time frame is two years from the date of the injury, although that time frame differs in medical malpractice cases.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Our Sacramento accident lawyer Robert Meissner has 14 years experience handling personal injury cases, including working for several years as a defense attorney for the insurance companies, giving him the knowledge, experience, and skills to achieve a settlement or jury verdict that fairly compensates you for your injuries.
Speak to our Sacramento accident law firm at The Law Office of Robert Meissner for help with your personal injury at 1-916-473-1537 or use our online form and contact us for a free initial consultation today!