The California civil court system offers a means of collecting compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others. When another person has harmed you or a loved one through negligence or intentional harm, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party to recover your damages. An experienced Hawthorne personal injury attorney can be an invaluable asset during this process, helping you navigate the state laws and statutes that will come into play for your case and maximizing your recovery.
At McLachlan Law, APC, our team offers comprehensive and compassionate legal counsel to Hawthorne, CA, residents victimized by the negligence of others. Our team can provide detail-oriented legal guidance through every phase of the civil claims process and help you recover as much compensation as possible for your losses. Unfortunately, even the most seemingly straightforward personal injury claims can escalate into very complex legal battles without the proper representation on your side.
What Is a Personal Injury Attorney?
A personal injury lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in helping clients navigate the civil court system. Personal injury is a broad area of civil law that can apply to many types of cases. However, the lynchpin of any personal injury case is negligence or a party’s failure to act with reasonable care in a given situation. Personal injury attorneys excel at helping their clients prove the negligence of the parties responsible for causing their damages and exploring all available avenues of compensation under California law.
What Kind of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
Most personal injury attorneys will provide legal counsel for any civil claim that falls within the purview of personal injury. At McLachlan Law, APC, we handle a wide variety of personal injury cases for our clients in the Hawthorne, CA area, including:
- Motor vehicle accident claims. Auto accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths and injuries throughout the US. If a car accident occurred because another driver was speeding, reckless, distracted, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against them to recover your losses.
- Defective product claims. If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury because of an unreasonably dangerous or defective consumer product, the manufacturer is liable for your damages. We can help you prove that a product was defective by design, defective by production, or failed to include adequate safety warnings or instructions for use.
- Medical malpractice claims. Medical negligence is one of the top causes of accidental deaths throughout the country. If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a health care professional’s failure to uphold the standard of care for your situation, we can help you file a personal injury claim under California’s medical malpractice laws.
- Wrongful death claims. When a personal injury is fatal, the victim’s family can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in the place of the personal injury claim the victim could have filed had they survived. Wrongful death claims can yield many of the same types of compensation as personal injury claims.
- Catastrophic injury claims. Some injuries will heal eventually, some requiring more extended recovery time than others. However, a catastrophic injury is any injury that results in permanent damage to the victim. Some catastrophic injuries result in permanent disabilities like loss of range of motion, loss of function, loss of sensation, paralysis, and severe cognitive impairment.
These are only a few examples of the types of personal injury claims our firm can help you handle. We understand the frustration, uncertainty, and confusion that often follow a personal injury, and our goal is to help you approach your claim with greater confidence.
Is It Worth Getting a Personal Injury Attorney for a Car Accident in Hawthorne?
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury claims in California and throughout the US. While you may not need legal representation after a very mild fender-bender that only resulted in minor cosmetic damage to your vehicle, if you suffered any kind of injury, it is wise to secure legal representation to ensure you recover as much as possible from your claim. Unfortunately, even if the at-fault driver carries auto insurance, there is no guarantee that they will have enough coverage to fully compensate for your losses.
Hiring an attorney to represent you in a car accident claim not only increases your chances of success with the claim but will also likely yield much more compensation than you could have secured on your own without legal counsel. A good attorney will help you determine the most critical challenges and opportunities you will face as your case unfolds, coordinate expert witness testimony on your behalf to support your claim, and ultimately do everything they can to maximize the compensation you receive from your successful personal injury claim. Additionally, your attorney can correspond with insurance companies on your behalf after a car accident, making it easier to get the insurance coverage you need after your accident.
What Should You Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you decide to take legal action after a personal injury in Hawthorne, CA, choosing an attorney with the right experience level and professional philosophy is vital. Some personal injury attorneys specialize in one or two types of personal injury claims, while others offer more expansive practice areas. In addition, some personal injury attorneys will focus on securing a settlement as swiftly as possible, while others strive to always ensure maximum recovery for their clients.
If you need a Hawthorne personal injury attorney to represent you, a few of the most important qualities they should possess include:
- Experience. While many fresh attorneys are skilled and passionate, there is no substitute for practical experience when you need legal counsel. Choose an attorney who not only has many years of legal experience behind them but also a solid track record of successfully representing cases similar to yours.
- Integrity. A good attorney will be honest and direct during your initial consultation. They should quickly highlight any unique challenges or opportunities your case presents and offer viable solutions.
- Responsiveness. Your attorney should provide you with multiple contact options for contacting them. Find out how often you can expect updates on your case.
- Transparency. The attorney you choose should be direct and transparent when it comes to their billing practices. For example, many attorneys bill by the hour, but most personal injury attorneys offer contingency fee billing that allows a plaintiff to avoid paying out of pocket for their legal fees and instead pay a portion of their cash award to the attorney at the conclusion of their case. Make sure you clearly understand the attorney’s billing policy before agreeing to their representation.
While time is a critical factor after a personal injury, and you should not delay in seeking legal counsel, it’s important to avoid rushing to hire a lawyer as well. Instead, take your time and try to take advantage of free consultation offers to narrow a list of your best potential attorneys. Ultimately, trust your instincts and hire the attorney who makes you feel the most confident about your case.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Claim
When you file a personal injury claim against another party, your Hawthorne personal injury lawyer should help you begin this process by identifying the four main components of negligence:
- You must identify the defendant responsible for your damages and prove they owed a duty of care to you in the situation in question. For example, if a distracted driver injured you, you must identify the driver responsible for the accident.
- Next, you need to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care in the situation in question. Following the previous example, you and your attorney would need to prove that the defendant was distracted while driving their vehicle when the accident occurred.
- You must provide proof of damage to pursue a personal injury claim. In addition, you must have sustained “actual harm,” meaning the defendant’s actions must have caused some measurable loss. Even if a defendant was negligent, you have no claim if you did not suffer a loss.
- Finally, it’s vital to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of your claimed damages. This is “causation,” and it’s vital to eliminate any doubt about whether your damages were the results of the defendant’s negligence or some other cause.
Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you will need to prove the defendant’s negligence in your injury claim. Depending on how the accident occurred, this could involve securing the defendant’s cell phone records, vehicle computer data, traffic camera footage, CCTV footage from the location where the incident happened, and eyewitness testimony.
It is also vital to remember that California upholds a pure comparative negligence law. This statute will cause a plaintiff to lose a percentage of their case award if an investigation reveals they are partially responsible for causing their claimed damages. Some states enforce contributory negligence laws, which state that a plaintiff cannot recover any damages if they are even slightly at fault for causing those damages. Other states enforce modified comparative negligence laws that bar plaintiff recovery at 50% or more fault. California has no limit, so a plaintiff could theoretically still recover damages even if they are found to be 99% at fault. The plaintiff loses a percentage of the case award equal to their fault percentage.
Possible Recovery From Your Hawthorne Personal Injury Case
A personal injury claim can potentially yield several types of compensation. California law upholds that a personal injury plaintiff has the right to claim compensation for all damages incurred from a defendant’s negligence. This can include:
- Immediate medical expenses, such as your hospital bills and the cost of emergency transportation from the accident scene.
- Future medical expenses, such as the cost of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other long-term restorative treatments you require.
- Lost wages. If your injury prevents you from working until you recover, you can claim any income lost during your recovery period in your personal injury claim.
- Lost future earnings. If a personal injury leaves you completely unable to return to work, your attorney can consult a financial expert who can calculate the amount of income you would have reasonably expected to earn in the future had the accident not occurred.
- Property damage. If the defendant’s actions resulted in any damage to your personal property, you could claim replacement costs in your lawsuit.
- Pain and suffering. California state law allows a plaintiff to recover pain and suffering compensation to reflect the physical pain and psychological suffering endured because of a defendant’s negligence. The amount received depends on the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Punitive damages. A plaintiff cannot directly seek punitive damages, but a judge may award them at their discretion to punish a defendant for egregious negligence or reckless, intentional actions.
The compensation you recover from your personal injury claim can be pretty substantial if you have an experienced Hawthorne personal injury attorney assisting your claim. To begin your personal injury claim, your attorney will help you draft a complaint and submit it to the local civil court, and they, in turn, will send it to the defendant named in your claim. This should open up settlement negotiations. A good attorney will strive to secure an appropriate settlement through negotiation, but it may be necessary to take a case to trial if the defendant is unwilling to accept their liability or if they disagree about the damages the plaintiff seeks.
Find Your Hawthorne Personal Injury Lawyer Now
If you or a loved one recently suffered any type of personal injury that you believe could have been prevented if another party had exercised reasonable care, you likely have grounds for a civil claim against them. The right attorney will make a significant difference in the outcome of your personal injury case. If you are ready to discuss your legal options with a reliable and experienced Hawthorne personal injury attorney, contact McLachlan Law, APC, today for more information about how we can help.