Fresno Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in Fresno, CA, it can seem like there is no end to the disruption that it can cause. There are several medical issues that come with an injury. You may have had to miss work and have found yourself in financial trouble as a result of your injuries. There’s an emotional toll and toil that can weigh heavily on you. In some cases, an accident may have led to the death of a spouse or child. These situations are a lot for anyone to handle.
One of the things that can help ease some of the stress in these situations is getting some restitution. The damage from a personal injury claim can help ease some of the financial stress and help you prepare for what comes next. At the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes, we handle personal injury claims of all types. If you’ve been injured in an accident, we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Personal Injuries in California
The idea of a personal injury covers a broad range of situations. If someone or an entity (such as a business establishment) has caused injury of an emotional, psychological, or physical nature through either wrongdoing or negligence, then they may be liable to the injured for damages. Some of the more common personal injury cases include:
- Car Accidents – While drivers are required to carry insurance, it is often the case that the state-required policy doesn’t cover enough to match the scope of harm done. We have experience that can help you argue to get the full restitution you deserve through a personal injury claim.
- Truck Accidents – The damage a truck can do is often severe, and the compensation deserved can be significant. Trucking accident claims can be some of the most complex personal injury claims that one can file. It can be difficult to identify who exactly is liable for a particular accident. The driver, the freight company, the shipper, and even the parts manufacturer, among others, are all among the potentially liable parties. Our experience in examining such accidents can go a long way in helping identify the proper party to make a claim against. If you, a spouse, or a child has been injured in a trucking accident, let us help you get what you are owed.
- Motorcycle Accidents – A motorcyclist can find themselves in some significant harm if injured in an accident. If the other driver was the cause of the accident, then a motorcyclist should explore the option of a claim.
- Bicycle Accident – Like a motorcyclist, anyone riding a bike has limited protection and could suffer serious injuries in an accident, particularly if hit by a motor vehicle.
These kinds of cases only begin to brush the surface of potential personal liability cases. Some others are injuries occurring on a construction site, medical malpractice, slander or libel, dog bites, or slip-and-fall situations. Anything that leads to physical, emotional, or psychological injury could be ground for a claim. A Fresno personal injury lawyer can help you understand if you have grounds for a claim.
Some personal injury claims are made with the argument that the defendant had malicious intent. However, in most cases, the claim is that the defendant acted negligently in causing the injury. Proving negligence can often be one of the most important aspects of a personal injury case. Having a skilled lawyer can be vital to establishing negligence on the part of the defendant. Proving negligence requires proving the three components of negligence. They are:
- A Duty of Care – It must be shown that, given the circumstances, the defendant would reasonably be expected to either act in a certain manner or not act in a certain manner. This can be something as simple as a driver being expected to use their turn signal before changing lanes on the road.
- Breach of Duty – The defendant breached the duty if they did not act as one would have reasonably expected them to in that situation.
- Cause – Lastly, it needs to be established that the breach of duty was the cause of the injury. In other words, the injury would not likely have occurred if the breach had not also occurred.
It can be difficult to establish precisely what duty a person has in each situation. The standard typically used is that which a reasonably careful person might have done in the same situation. That probably sounds a bit imprecise, and that is where a personal injury lawyer can be so valuable. Our experience can help us make a strong case for the duty of care in your case.
Statute of Limitations
There may be a few occasional exceptions, but in almost all cases, a claim must be submitted within two years of the injury or within one year of the injury’s discovery if it was not discovered until after the two years. These limitations tend to be fairly strict, and often, one of the techniques insurance companies may use is to run out the clock while claiming to need things like more paperwork and information. This is why it’s critical that you work with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after the injury, as we can help you negotiate with other parties to avoid these kinds of stalling techniques.
What to Do if You Are Injured
What happens in the immediate aftermath of an incident that causes an injury can often have a tremendous bearing on a case. It can often be difficult, given the adrenaline and stress of the situation, to remember all of the steps involved between the incident and filing a claim. So while each of the steps is described here, there are three principles to generally remember.
- Make sure you are safe and get any emergency treatment needed.
- Say nothing more than is absolutely necessary to the other party involved, and if police are involved, factually tell them however you understood the incident to have occurred.
- Get ahold of your lawyer as soon as you can. At the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes in Fresno, we can put our 40 years of experience to work immediately, helping you understand what to do next in such a stressful situation.
While every case is unique, there is a general process that can be followed from incident to claim that can give your claim a strong chance at success. This process, of course, assumes that there is a singular incident that led to the injury. This is not always the case, and not all steps apply to every case. Our team can help you figure out what applies to your case.
- Be Safe – It’s always important to get whatever emergency medical treatment is needed as quickly as possible.
- Contact the Police – If you are dealing with a singular incident, such as a motor vehicle accident, then it’s always important to contact the police. Their report of the incident could be valuable to make your case, so make sure you answer their questions factually with regard to your understanding of how the accident occurred. Avoid discussing the particulars of the accident with the other party, an insurance company, or anyone else besides the police until you’ve had a chance to talk with a lawyer.
- Gather Information – It’s always important to gather as much information as you can, given the circumstances, as it may help your case later. If you can, be sure to collect all relevant names, insurance company information, and license plate numbers after a motor vehicle incident. Don’t merely rely on the police report. Photographs of any damage or other relevant factors can also be a potential help to your case later.
- Get a Medical Examination – Getting a full medical examination immediately after your incident can be very important to your case. The longer you go between a medical examination and the incident, the more difficult it may be to establish a link between the incident and your injuries.
- Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer – At the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes, we can help you investigate the circumstances around your injury, gather evidence, and put together a case in your favor.
- Negotiation – It can often be beneficial to both parties, in terms of time and cost, to avoid the court process if possible. So, the next step would likely be for your representation to negotiate with all relevant parties and see if a settlement can be reached without having to file a claim.
Filing a Claim
Sometimes negotiation isn’t possible, and it becomes necessary to file a claim. In that case, there are a few different components to filing a claim, including:
- Legal Standing – To file in California, you must have legal standing, which means you must:
- Have been directly harmed by the defendant’s action or inaction
- Be a legal entity, a person or entity with legal status such as a corporation or non-profit
- Have legal capacity, which means being over the age of 18 and without mental incompetency as a result of age, illness, or infirmity (someone with legal capacity may file as a representative of those without)
- Venue for the Claim – The county options for where your claim may be filed are:
- Where the incident occurred
- Where the majority of witnesses are
- Where the defendant lives
- Where the defendant’s principal place of business is located
- Where you live
- Where your principal place of business is located
- Filing the Claim – Once legal standing is established and a location is selected, the next step is the filing of the claim, which has two parts filed to the court:
- Summons – This will be sent to the defendant to notify them of your claim against them.
- Complaint – This will tell the court the nature of your injury and circumstances around it, why the defendant is liable, and how much you are asking for in damages.
Once the claim is filed, your lawyer will walk you through the next steps of trial preparation. This can involve more gathering of evidence, depositions, and motions filed from both sides related to the case. Negotiation could still occur during this period, but if no settlement is reached by the trial date, then the claim will finally go to trial.
Compensation for Personal Injury
Obviously, there are many injuries from which people can never return to their lives as they were before the injury. However, the purpose of damages is an attempt to return the injured to “whole” again. To that end, the plaintiff can receive three kinds of damages:
- Economic Damages: Costs associated with the injury can typically have an economic value easily ascribed to them are economic damages. These are things like medical bills, income loss, and property damages. For instance, if a car is totaled in an accident, the year, make, model, and condition of the car can be compared to similar vehicles’ selling price, and that estimate can be added to the damages in total. To ensure you receive the economic damages you deserve, it is very important to keep good records of any economic loss associated with your injury.
- Non-Economic Damages: There are other costs associated with an injury that can’t be so easily quantified because they aren’t the kind of thing you can purchase. Things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and a lesser quality of life aren’t exactly things for which you can purchase a remedy. Money won’t solve everything, but it may help ease the difficulty that the plaintiff has suffered and currently faces as a result of their injury. Thus, California law does allow for damages for these kinds of circumstances if it can be shown the defendant’s actions led directly to the plaintiff experiencing these issues.
- Punitive Damages – If the defendant’s actions were determined to be malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent, the court can choose to assess damages for the purpose of punishing the defendant and acting as a deterrent against future wrongdoing. There is no cap on punitive damages in California.
FAQs About Fresno, CA Personal Injury Law
What Is Considered Personal Injury in California?
A personal injury in Fresno, California, is one that occurs as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing or negligence. The injury sustained may be physical, emotional, or psychological.
What Are the Different Types of Personal Injury Claims?
A personal injury claim can come from any circumstance where one party has been injured as a result of the neglect or wrongdoing of another party. So while there is no law specifying a list of personal injury claims, there are some things that come up more frequently than others. These can include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slips and falls
- Dog bites
- Premises liability cases
- Failure to provide a safe work environment
How Do I File a Personal Injury Claim in Fresno, CA?
You need to file a claim within two years of when the injury occurred. If the injury was discovered later, a claim must be filed within a year of the injury being identified. There may be an attempt to settle outside of court, but a settlement then a summons must be sent to the defendant and a complaint filed with the court. From that point, preparations for the case being argued in court will be made. If no settlement is reached by the trial, then the case will be heard before the court, which will render a judgment.
What Kind of Damages Are Awarded for Personal Injury Claims in Fresno, California?
There are different kinds of damages that you may receive for personal injury claims in Fresno, California. Economic damages are things of easily quantifiable value because they are things that have a transactional value. Things like property damage, wages lost due to injury, and the cost of medical treatment are all examples of economic damages that are often involved in personal liability claims. Non-economic damages can be a little more difficult to quantify as they attempt to assess a cost for things that can’t be bought or sold. Things like pain and suffering, anxiety or depression as a result of the injury, or loss of consortium are all things that fall in the category of non-economic damages. Punitive damages should serve as a kind of punishment against the defendant, and they usually aren’t awarded in cases where negligence is the primary cause of the injury.
You Need An Attorney You Can Rely On
For many people who suffer a personal injury, it may be the most pivotal moment of their lives. It can have dramatic effects on a person’s well-being and what they are able to do with their lives moving forward. What that means, though, is that a personal injury lawsuit might be the next most pivotal moment of their lives. The financial relief can’t fully replace what’s been lost in an injury or fully rectify your situation. It can, though, make moving forward less stressful in one aspect. With such an important moment, you’ll want a legal team behind you that has the knowledge and experience to make a strong case for you and your needs. Contact us today and make sure you can count on your legal team.