What Are the Two Basic Questions Tort Law Deals With?
Tort law principles that govern how we interact with each other in modern society are based on a simple concept: we owe each other a basic duty not to do anything that will injure somebody else. When someone does suffer an injury, tort law asks whether someone else caused that injury and, if so, what is the dollar value of that injury?
For more than 25 years, the personal injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law in Los Angeles have analyzed the accidental injuries that their Southern California clients have suffered within the framework of these two basic questions. Our mission in every case is to use the facts surrounding an accidental injury to demonstrate how a negligent party’s breach of the basic duty of care caused another person’s injuries and to recover the largest available damages award to compensate an accident victim for his or her losses.
How to prove that a negligent party’s breach of a duty of care was the cause of an injury
In California, a person may be responsible for someone else’s injuries if that person’s negligent acts or omissions were a substantial factor in causing the injuries. The facts surrounding a negligent accident might show that several factors substantially contributed to the injury, but a factor must be more than remote or trivial or it will not be deemed to be the cause of an injury. A personal injury lawyer might argue more specifically that but for a negligent party’s conduct, an injured party would not have suffered his or her injuries. Conversely, a negligent party’s conduct will not be deemed to have been a substantial factor in causing an injury if that injury would have occurred even apart from the first person’s conduct.
How to prove the dollar value of an accident victim’s injuries
Even where liability and causation are very clear, the dollar value of an accident victim’s injuries may be a more difficult issue to resolve in tort and negligence cases. The purpose of damages in tort law is to restore an injured party to the position that he or she was in or would be in if the accident had not happened. To satisfy this purpose, damages can include several components:
- reimbursements for medical bills, doctor’s visits, and hospital fees that an injured party paid for the treatment of injuries;
reimbursements of likely future medical expenses and therapeutic equipment that will be needed for full recovery from injuries;
- costs for transportation to and from appointments with doctors and therapists;
- replacement of lost income from salary or wages that an injured party did not receive due to an inability to work while he or she was injured;
- compensation for pain and suffering, loss of opportunity to enjoy family and friends, and loss of consortium with loved ones;
- the value of any property that was lost or damaged due to another person’s negligence.
Some of these damages components are easily determined, for example, by bills and invoices that an injured party has already received. Compensation for likely future expenses and other components, such as pain and suffering, is more likely to be challenged by a negligent party or that party’s liability insurance carriers. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney will anticipate this challenge and will prepare a case in ways that demonstrate the full extent of a party’s injuries and how those injuries have adversely affected his or her lifestyle.
Does an injured party need a lawyer to show cause and the value of injuries?
In many accident and injury cases, a negligent party’s liability insurance carriers will admit liability and causation and will focus primarily on damages. The insurance company might offer to settle an accident claim for a low amount to foreclose any efforts by an injured party to recover the full amount of damages that he or she is entitled to receive. Accident victims that settle cases quickly and without a lawyer’s assistance often forfeit a substantial amount of compensation that they would otherwise be able to recover. As a result, an injured party’s better course of action is to confer with a personal injury lawyer before speaking with or accepting any offers from an insurance company.
Call Ellis Injury Law for answers to questions about accident liability and damages
The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law help Southern California accident victims to show how a negligent party’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing their injuries. Our lawyers work tirelessly to help our victims receive the full amount of monetary damages. Please see our website or call our Los Angeles offices directly as soon as possible after a negligent party has caused you to suffer serious losses and injuries.