Personal Injury Accident in Oak Park, California
Nestled amongst the Simi Hills and blessed with natural beauty but still close enough to downtown Los Angeles, Oak Park is a great place for families and outdoor adventure-seekers. But whether you’re hiking a technical portion of nearby Palo Comado Canyon or driving to work, life is always full of opportunities to get injured. No risk, no gain. Right? Sure, but what if the carelessness of another person—such as a driver taking their eyes off the road while sending a text message—caused your injury? Some things are out of your control but you do have the right to seek monetary compensation when another party is liable (or legally responsible) for your injuries.
Injuries typically involve bodily harm but not always. For instance, harming someone’s reputation by publishing lies about them (called defamation) is considered an injury and also is an example of an intentional tort. Parties that were neither negligent nor intentional in causing an injury also may be held strictly liable if they designed, made, or sold defective products.
If you were injured through no fault of your own, the first thing you should do after getting appropriate medical attention is to contact an experienced Oak Park personal injury lawyer at Walch Law. Walch Law is a local team of lawyers that will work hard to get you paid the most for your injuries following a serious accident. Call today to set up your obligation-free consultation and learn more about how Walch Law can help and get your questions answered.Personal Injury Claims: How Negligence is Determined
As stated above, parties may be held liable for injuries committed through intentional acts, accidents (i.e., carelessness), and strict liability. However, negligence is easily the most common type of liability for personal injury claims. A party is considered negligent when it fails to act in a manner consistent with that of a “reasonable person.” This failure is considered a breach of one’s duty of care (or legal responsibility to another) when it causes harm to another party. For example, a shopkeeper who fails to clean up a potentially dangerous patch of ice (however unlikely in Southern California) near their shop entrance in a timely manner could be held liable for any slip and fall injuries that occur as a result of this failure.
The defendant (at-fault party) is thus responsible for compensating the plaintiff (injured party) for any losses that stem from this act of liability. The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate the following legal elements to prove negligence:
- Defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- Defendant breached that duty
- Plaintiff’s injuries were in fact caused by this breach
- Defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury(ies), meaning they wouldn’t have occurred if not for the negligence of the defendant
- Plaintiff has suffered actual damages, such as bodily injury
While certain minor motor vehicle accidents are fairly simple in terms of claims, especially if it’s limited to property damage, most injury claims typically benefit from the expertise of legal counsel. Your Oak Park personal injury lawyer can help you firmly establish your claim.Beyond Negligence: Strict Liability and Intent
Some parties, mainly the designers, manufacturers, and sellers of consumer goods, may be held strictly liable if those products cause injury. Generally, claims are valid as long as the consumer was using the product in its intended manner (although this isn’t always a bright line, which is why you often see so many seemingly obvious warning labels on consumer goods).
In order to file a strict liability claim, you need to prove the following elements:
- Product was unreasonably unsafe or dangerous when it was designed, manufactured, or sold
- Seller expected and intended that the product would reach the consumer without changes to the product
- Plaintiff was injured by the defective product
When someone intentionally harms you, they also may be held liable for your injuries (often along with separate criminal charges). For example, murder is the intentional taking of another person’s life but also may give rise to wrongful death liability with respect to the deceased party’s survivors (spouse, etc.).Damages for Oak Park Personal Injury Claims
When you go to file your injury claim, you’ll ask for a certain amount of money meant to compensate you for your losses. These are called damages. Personal injury damages may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Disfigurement or permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished future earning potential
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (intimacy and affection)
People generally don’t enjoy the prospect of filing a lawsuit but failing to file a personal injury claim when you’ve suffered losses due to another party’s negligence or intentional act could set you back even more. It’s always a good idea to at least explore your legal options, particularly since initial consultations are typically free. If you’re considering an injury claim, call the experts at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, a Law Corporation.