California Civil Code § 1714 provides the basic state law for negligence/injury claims by making everyone responsible not only for his actions but for injuries caused by his failure to use ordinary care. Actionable negligence, then, traditionally results from:
• A legal duty to use due care.
• The breach of such legal duty.
• Such breach proximately causing injury.
In other words, a person injured by the negligence of another can seek damages from the negligent party.
First, a personal injury claim starts with an injury. While there are many kinds of injuries, most successful claims generate evidence of such injuries in the form of MEDICAL BILLS & LOSS WAGES. This evidence is called damages.
Second, an injured claimant needs to show that his injuries were caused by someone else's fault. Such other person at fault, called a tortfeasor, is one who "failed to use ordinary or reasonable care". This tortfeasor can be held responsible for his NEGLIGENT injury of the claimant.
Third, the claimant's injuries and the tortfeasor’s fault need to be connected by proximate or LEGAL CAUSATION.
Fourth, the value of a personal injury claim will reduce by the claimant's own fault. This system of COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE no longer strips an injured party absolutely of his right to damages, but now simply reduces the value of the injured party's claim by the percentage of his own negligence. Thus, a claimant who failed to reduce his injuries by failing to use his seatbelt will have his damages which were caused by the tortfeasor's negligence reduce by his own comparative negligence.
Fifth, a personal injury claim requires INSURANCE from which damages can be paid. Often, if the tortfeasor has no insurance, then the claimant may recover from his own insurance.
Regarding litigation expenses, the personal injury attorney represents claimants on a contingency fee basis. Thus, the injured party pays no fee unless he recovers damages, and then the fee is paid as a percentage of the recovery. Costs, however, are paid by the claimant unless advanced by the attorney.
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