California Negligence Laws

If you are ever involved in an accident, such as a car accident, bicycle accident, Metro accident, etc., you have the right to hold the responsible party liable for your injuries suffered. We advise that you contact our attorneys immediately after being involved in an accident. Each accident has a different statute of limitations that state when a plaintiff could file a claim. This means that if the plaintiff filed their claim too late, they could risk their entire case, and will be unable to collect compensation from the defendant.

When a lawsuit is filed against the defendant in an accident case, it most likely will be filed under a negligence legal theory. Our accident attorneys have decades of experience dealing with negligence lawsuits, and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in favor of our clients. We know just what it takes to negotiate with defendants and investigate your claim to look for instances of negligence.

What is negligence?

Negligence is a term used to refer to improper actions of a party. This is used as a legal standard when filing a personal injury lawsuit. This means that if a victim was injured in an accident, they will be able to hold the defendant liable under negligence. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant was negligent and caused the accident.

California defines negligence as the failure to use reasonable care. This means that the defendant should have acted in a reasonably safe manner, yet failed to do so or did some act that a reasonably safe person would not have done.

What are the elements of negligence in California?

A plaintiff in California must need to prove all the elements of negligence. These elements include:

  1. The defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff. The duty of care was to act within a reasonable standard of care given the circumstances
  2. The defendant failed to act within that duty, and breached that duty.
  3. The defendant caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries.
  4. The plaintiff now has damages from the injuries.

 Essentially, a defendant is negligent when they fail to act in a reasonably safe manner. Our California accident attorneys will be able to investigate and look into your claim to determine who was the negligent party, and the compensation you could receive based on their negligence.

What is a duty of care?

California mandates that each person has a duty of care towards one another to prevent accidents and injuries caused by their actions. This duty is created by several laws imposed, such as California vehicle codes. This means that no person can make reckless or negligent decisions. The duty of care depends on the circumstances of the situation. For example, if the accident occurs while driving, then the driver has a duty of care to other drivers on the road to drive in a reasonably safe manner. If the driver caused the accident, then they most likely were negligent and breach the duty of care.

What does a jury decide in negligence cases?

Usually, the majority of lawsuits settle because parties do not want to end up going to trial. When parties end up going to trial, they will likely incur thousands of dollars on both sides due to the number of experts that they have to bring in and court costs. If a case does not end up settling, and goes to trial, a jury must decide whether the defendant was negligent. The jury must ask themselves whether the defendant breached their duty, and whether this breach caused the plaintiff to suffer harm. The question is whether a reasonable person would have acted the same way that a defendant did.

How does a defendant respond to negligence?

A defendant is the party who the claim is brought against. The defendant will likely raise several defenses against the plaintiff’s negligence claim. Examples of defenses include:

  • The defendant did not have a duty to the plaintiff: the defendant may try to argue that they had no duty to act in a reasonably safe manner to the plaintiff. Almost always this argument is not valid since there are several laws that establish duties towards others. For example, a landowner has a duty to visitors on their land to keep their land in a reasonably safe condition.

  • The plaintiff caused his or her own injuries: the defendant may argue that the plaintiff actually caused their own injuries. This is not a complete defense, since California is a pure comparative law state. This means that even if the defendant did cause a portion of the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff will be able to recover their compensation deducted by their liability. Defendants will almost always try to blame the plaintiff for the injuries that the plaintiff has suffered.

  • The plaintiff assumed the risk: this is one of the most common defenses that our attorneys have come across. Defendants will always try to raise the argument that the plaintiff assumed the risk when they engaged in a specific activity. This means that the plaintiff was aware of the risks involved, yet chose to take the action anyways. This is not always a valid defense, simply because the plaintiff has not assumed the risk of getting severely injured. There is a limit as to how much risk a plaintiff may assume. For example, if a plaintiff was involved in a basketball game, yet was punched and thrown to the floor, the plaintiff may have assumed everyday contact, but not severe contact from other players.

There are several other defenses that the defendant may raise that are not mentioned here. Our car accident attorneys understand how to navigate through the legal process, and the arguments we should raise against the defendants. We are always one step ahead of our opponents, and our experienced legal team will gather as much evidence as possible to determine liability on the defendant.

Statute Of Limitations on Negligence Claims

California has a statute of limitations set up where they have limited the time as to when a plaintiff could file a negligence claim. For example, for personal injury cases, such as car accidents and bike accidents, it is 2 years from the date of the accident. For property damage cases, it is 2 years from the date of the accident, and for malpractice claims it is 1 year from the date of the accident. If you were to file a lawsuit against a government entity for your accident, it is six months from the date of the accident.

Initially, after an accident you may not know who the potential parties are and what time limits apply. That is why we advise you to contact our attorneys immediately to determine the negligent parties and the amount of time that you may have to file a lawsuit.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you have the right to hold the other party responsible. Contact us today to see how we can file a lawsuit on your behalf to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. We always devote ourselves to making sure that our clients get the legal representation they deserve.

After your free case review, our attorneys will determine what the best next steps may be, and how to hold the defendants accountable for their actions. Our car accident attorneys will also then negotiate with the defendants and insurance companies to make sure that the compensation you receive covers all your costs, especially your future income and treatment costs.

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