Trusted, Honored and Awarded.
Over $225 Million Recovered For Our Clients

Severe Personal Injury FAQ

Serious Personal Injury Cases, Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What is a serious personal injury?
    • In California, legal cases can be brought for personal injury whether serious or not. However, practitioners generally consider spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, significant burn injuries, fractures, herniated disks and major psychological disorders as serious personal injuries.
  • Who can sue for serious personal injuries?
    • Any person who is injured in California can bring a serious personal injury case under California law. In the case of minors or incompetents, the case must be brought for the minor or incompetent by a parent or guardian appointed by the Court. This is a very simple procedure.
  • Who can be sued in a serious personal injury case?
    • Any person or entity whose negligent or intentional wrongful conduct contributed to the serious personal injury can be sued. The only requirement is that the person or entity sued is at least partially at fault.
  • What if I am partially at fault for causing my own injury?
    • California is a comparative fault state. A person can sue for serious personal injury even if they are partially at fault. As long as they can prove that one or more other parties are also at fault. However, the amount of a plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by the amount of their fault. Therefore, if someone is awarded $5 million in a serious personal injury case, but are found to be 50% at fault, the recovery will be limited to $2.5 million.
  • What if I am injured at work?
    • Work injuries are common. Unfortunately, if the only entity or person at fault for the injury is the employer, in almost all circumstances, an employee cannot sue the employer in civil court. The employee’s damages are limited to workers’ compensation remedies. The good news is that workers’ compensation covers an employee who is injured at work even if the accident is strictly the employee’s fault, however, the bad news is that workers’ compensation benefits are extraordinarily limited, rarely include a full recovery for a wage loss and allow no recovery for loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
    • If the wrongful conduct of anybody other than the employer contributed to the worker’s injury, the worker can sue the negligent party. For instance, in construction accidents, frequently someone at a job site other than the employer is responsible or partly responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. In this situation a plaintiff can recovery both workers’ compensation benefits and sue whoever else is responsible in civil court.
  • Is it valuable to perform an investigation and to retain experts in a serious personal injury case?
    • It is critical that a thorough investigation be performed, usually by an investigator hired by an attorney in a serious personal injury case. The sooner the investigation can be performed the better, because more evidence will be available. A good investigation should attempt to pin down the fault of a potential defendant, and could potentially point to the existence of other defendants who are responsible for the incident; and establish that the plaintiff’s fault is minimal or non-existent.
    • Expert witnesses are almost always retained by good law firms in serious personal injury cases. Experts can help establish the liability of a defendant(s); document the plaintiff’s injuries and predict a plaintiff’s future medical needs and loss of income.
  • What damages are recoverable in a serious personal injury case?
    • Under California law a seriously injured plaintiff is entitled to recover all of his or her past and future medical expenses; past and future loss of income/earning capacity; past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress and in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is particularly bad, punitive damages the excess damages which are awarded to punish the defendant.
  • Is insurance coverage important?
    • Insurance coverage is critical in any serious personal injury case. Serious personal injuries, almost by definition, will result in a potential damage award of hundreds of thousands of dollars or perhaps millions of dollars. For plaintiff to receive their full compensation it is critical that the defendant is either an individual or a large corporation with considerable assets or that there is sufficient insurance coverage. This is why it is so important for the plaintiff’s attorney to conduct a thorough investigation to make sure that all possible defendants are included in the case, which will increase the chances of there being enough insurance coverage or money available to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries.
    • Another means to insurance coverage may be the plaintiff’s own underinsured motorist policy. If the policy limits of the plaintiff’s own uninsured/underinsured motors policy are high enough, the plaintiff will be able to recover against his or her insurance company if they can prove that someone else is at fault for the accident.
  • How long do I have to file a serious personal injury case?
    • Generally speaking, a serious personal injury victim has one year from the date of the accident to bring a lawsuit. If the case is against a public entity, a claim must be filed within six months whether the plaintiff is a minor or adult. In the case of minors, generally, a case can be brought on behalf of a minor up until their 19th birthday. There are exceptions to all of these rules. Someone should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible if they are suffering a severe or serious personal injury.
  • Is it necessary to hire an attorney in a serious personal injury case?
    • It is almost always a good idea to at least seek the advice of an attorney in a serious personal injury case. A good attorney will know how to perform the necessary investigation and hire the right experts to help insure full compensation. In addition, even in case with low insurance policy limits, the attorney may be able to put together a case against another defendant who will be more able to fully compensate a seriously injured plaintiff for the full extent of their damages.
  • Will my case settle out of court?
    • Probably. Ninety to 95% of serious personal injury cases settle at some point before trial.
  • Is there a limit of how much money I can be awarded for my serious personal injury?
    • No, except medical malpractice claims which limit pain, suffering and emotional distress damages to $250,000.

Most legal questions require complex answers. The answers provided here may not be complete or fully accurate but attempt to provide consumers with abbreviated answers. For more detailed answers to these questions, a consumer should check out other articles in this section of this website, research other legal articles and texts on the subject matter or consult with an attorney.

If You Are Wronged, We Will Make It Right. Schedule A Free Confidential Consultation At Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP, we empower our clients. We take on the largest law firms, toughest insurance defense lawyers and largest companies with confidence. * Bold text labels are required for submission | We practice in California only.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.