Civil Code § 1708. Every person is bound, without contract, to abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or infringing upon any of his or her rights.
Personal injury law boils down to two concepts: (1) negligence; (3) strict liability. The law will also hold someone who commits an intentional tort (like assault, battery or false imprisonment) liable for the damage caused by their wrongful actions.
Civil Code § 1714. (a) Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.[…]
Simply put, negligence is when someone acts below an applicable standard of care and in doing so causes someone to suffer damages. Another way to look at it is when someone has a duty, breaches the duty, and thereby causes harm. For example, a person has a duty not to run a red light. If he runs the red light – thereby breaching the duty – and causes injury by doing so, he’s negligent. If an of the elements – duty, breach, causation or damages – are missing, there’s no negligence.
Strict liability, by way of contrast, does not require a breach of a duty causing injury. Instead, all that is necessary is that injury occur in some special context. The law of product liability is an application of strict liability; in the simplest sense, all that need be shown is that the injury arose from a defect in the product. Another example of when strict liability applies is the law related to animal attacks; a person walking her tiger in public will be strictly liable if the cat attacks and injures someone. Finally, inherently dangerous activities like blasting with explosives would give rise to strict liability.
How Babachanian Can Help
Babachanian handles the full range of personal injury claims including:
- Automobile, Motorcycle, Pedestrian, Truck, AIrcraft and Bus Accidents
- Accidents on Government Property (California Tort Claims Act)
- Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
- Assaults, Batteries, False Imprisonment and Infliction of Emotional Distress
- Insurance Bad Faith
- Insurance Claims for Property Loss
- Damage from Fire, Water, Theft and Related Business Interruption
Contact Babachanian if you are injured because of the wrongful acts of another. We’ll talk about the process of getting you compensated for your loss.
8 Things to Do If You Have a Car Accident
1Get medical help. Immediately call 9-1-1 if you are seriously injured. Even if you think you aren’t seriously injured, you might still be hurt – maybe seriously; you might be in shock and still unaware of the severity of your injuries. It is common for accident victims to feel no pain until later – perhaps even until the next morning when they realize it’s difficult to get out of bed. That’s why I strongly suggest that you consider seeking immediate medical evaluation at a hospital emergency room or a reputable clinic experienced in treating accident patients.
Note: It’s important for your health and your case that you see a doctor if you experience any kind of pain, especially within 48 hours of the accident. If you see a doctor and your condition does not improve within a few days after the accident, seek further medical care with a doctor experienced in treating accident patients.
2Call the police. Calling 9-1-1 is also likely to bring the police to the accident scene. In some cities with overworked police departments, the police respond only to injury accidents or accidents with substantial property damage. If the 9-1-1 operator dispatches the police, remain at the accident scene until the police arrive if it is safe to do so (otherwise, try to get to a safe place and update the police on your location). If you believe you were not at fault, it may also be in your best interest to politely insist that the officer prepare an accident report. Truthfully answer questions asked by the officer regarding your name, contact and insurance information. Be careful what you tell the police! Click here to find out why.
3Be respectful, but do not admit fault, apologize or deny that you are injured. At the accident scene you should behave in a polite, civil manner; don’t raise your voice at the other driver even if you were not at fault. Try not to discuss any aspect of the cause of the accident or your medical condition with the other driver. If someone asks if you are injured, you may not know yet (sometimes it takes some time to feel it) so don’t automatically say “no;” if you feel you have to say something, it’s best to say you don’t know yet whether or not you were injured.
4Exchange driver information with the other party. The law requires that certain information – name, address, telephone number, insurance information – be exchanged among parties in an accident who request the information. Don’t leave the scene of an accident until you have done this or you may be subject to criminal hit-and-run penalties (it can also make you look bad in court if you sue or are yourself sued).
Ask to see the other party’s driver license. Clearly note full name, address and license number as well as the expiration date and whether the driver had any driving restrictions (such as the need to wear corrective lenses).
Ask to see the driver’s insurance information. Make sure to write down the name of the insured, the name of the insurance company, the policy number, and the effective and expiration dates appearing on the insurance card. Also, write down the names, address and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident or anyone who stopped to help after the accident. Be attentive. Obtain as much information from the other people involved in the accident as possible. Notice if the person who hit you was on a cell phone at the time of the accident. Look for witnesses and get their contact information. Remember to clearly note the year, make, model and color of the other car(s) involved, also clearly jotting down the state and license plate number. Note also the other party’s general appearance, such as whether he or she was wearing glasses, the color and type of clothes worn, whether he or she was wearing shoes or open-toed thongs. Look for facts that will help your case, should you later decide to bring one.
5Make a good photographic record. Take good, clear, color photos of your cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises – from when they first show up and then from time to time even as they are healing; it is best to have the date the photo was taken print on the photo, if your camera supports this function (if you don’t have a camera that does, cameras used by my law office for the purpose of recording injuries support this function). Have these photos developed by a “one hour photo lab” immediately (within a day or two) after taken so that if the film is spoiled for some reason you can follow up and take back-up photos at once. Make sure to take pictures of your damaged car and other damaged property as well – before any repairs are made. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words!
6 Contact Babachanian as soon as possible. Consult with me immediately to get an idea of whether you have a case, how you should go about making a claim, the best way to get medical attention and the quickest way to get your car repaired.
7Never give a statement to anyone (even your own insurance company) without talking to Babachanian first. It is critical that you get legal advice before making any statements to any insurance company – including your own. Insurance adjustors’ primary loyalty is to their own companies. Their job is to keep costs down, and making payments to you counts as a cost. An insurance adjustor who feels he can get to you before you’ve consulted with your lawyer may be able to subtly ask questions designed to weaken your claim.
8Be careful – don’t miss important statute of limitations deadlines. It is very, very important that you remember that as a general rule in California, you must file suit within one year from the date of the accident (six months if you were injured by and are making a claim against a government entity). If you miss these important statute of limitations deadlines for filing suit, you will have forever missed the right to make a claim based on the accident.