A claim for personal injury can arise whenever there is harm or loss to an individual that is emotional, psychological or physical in nature. Under all state laws, including California, any person may be held liable for intentionally or negligently causing injury to another person. Some examples of common personal injury cases involving intentional and negligence claims include car accidents and slip and fall accidents.

Even in the absence of facts showing the defendant intentionally or negligently caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the defendant may still be held liable for those injuries under the theory of strict liability.

Strict liability statutes vary by state, but typically involve claims that arise under specific circumstances where the defendant was engaged in activities that are known to be dangerous. For example, strict liability scenarios can involve the use of explosives, manufacturing of products, storage of hazardous chemicals and possession of wild animals.

Regardless whether the claim asserts the defendant’s actions were negligent or intentional, or asserts the theory of strict liability, the plaintiff can recover a variety of damages such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages so long as the injuries arise out of the action or inaction of the person responsible.

When Should I Bring My Personal Injury Claim in California?

Every state has a specific statute of limitations relating to the different types of personal injury scenarios. Statutes of limitations protect the defendants from stale claims and incentivizes plaintiffs to pursue their claims without delay.

In California, depending on the facts of your case, the time can start to run from the date of your accident or from the date you discover your injury. As well, the time you have to bring a claim for injuries relating to a slip and fall or car accident will be treated differently than a claim against the government. A qualified California attorney can help you identify the timeframe for bringing your particular claim.

How Do I Establish My Personal Injury Claim in California?

You must show causation and damages regardless whether your personal injury claim asserts an intentional or negligent tort. If your claim asserts strict liability, you must also prove causation and damages. Additionally, you must be able to point to a specific statute that establishes the activity alleged to have caused your injury is subject to strict liability.

This is usually the case for unreasonably or abnormally dangerous activities. These types of cases don’t require that the you prove the defendant was negligent or careless. In California, there are two recognized strict liability scenarios, those involving injuries resulting from defective products and dog bites.

What is California’s Strict Liability Law Regarding Dog Bites?

By statute in California, the owner of a dog may be held liable for injuries to any person the dog bites. Where some states require that the owner have had knowledge of the dog’s dangerousness, California’s one-bite rule holds the owner strictly liable so long as the person who is bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time.

So for example, if you have a visitor over for the holidays and they get bitten by your dog who has never bitten anyone before, you will still be liable for the injuries the visitor suffers. However, if someone unlawfully trespasses on your property and is bitten by the dog, that person cannot establish a successful strict liability claim against you.  (Non-bite injuries are subject to negligence claims).

As in other types of personal injury cases, the victim may be successful in recovering the same range of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement and emotional distress. With any personal injury case, it is important you keep complete and accurate documentation to help support your claim for damages.

What Defenses are Available in California for Personal Injury Claims Alleging Negligence?

California considers the shared responsibility (also known as comparative negligence) of the plaintiff in personal injury cases, such as car accidents. If you have any responsibility for the car accident, any awarded damages may be reduced by the percentage of your contribution to the accident. So for instance, you are hit by another driver who failed to stop at a stop sign.

However, your car was stopped unlawfully in the road because you were checking your emails. The jury determines that you are entitled to damages in the amount of $25,000 but that you were 30% at fault for the accident. Your award will be reduced by 30%, which leaves you with a final award of $17, 500.

Should I Hire a California Attorney for My Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury cases can be stressful and sometimes can prove difficult to establish. Whatever the nature of your claim, a California personal injury attorney can help you understand when to file your claim and can represent you in court.