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Ochoa & Calderon

What Is a Serious Injury in California?

serious injury car accident

Thirteen states throughout the nation are deemed no-fault states when it comes to car accident insurance claims. In a no-fault state, each driver’s insurance policy pays their medical expenses after a crash. California is not one of those states. As an at-fault state, it’s the at-fault driver’s insurance company that is ultimately responsible to pay the damages caused in the wreck, and it’s the injured victim’s burden to prove the other driver was responsible. Legal help is needed to prove that claim and recover the right amount of compensation. Learn more below about serious injuries in car accidents and workplace accidents, and call an experienced and successful personal injury lawyer at Ochoa & Calderón if you have been hurt in a crash in Riverside or Southern California.

Does California Have a Serious Injury Threshold?

California does not have a serious injury threshold for an automotive accident. No-fault states like Oregon and Washington only allow lawsuits for “serious injuries,” while more minor injuries are covered by the driver’s no-fault insurance. To recover compensation beyond what the no-fault policy provides, the victim must have what qualifies as a serious injury. Since California doesn’t have a serious injury threshold, the state also doesn’t define “serious injury” when it comes to car accidents.

However, California does have defined serious injuries as they relate to OSHA regulations and workplace accidents. Incidents in California workplaces are deemed serious injuries if they occurred following a violation in which there was a realistic possibility of death or serious physical harm. These injuries can include the following:

  • Inpatient hospitalization, regardless of length of time, for other than medical observation or diagnostic testing
  • Amputation
  • Loss of an eye
  • Serious degree of permanent disfigurement

Filing a Personal Injury Claim in California

In California, a serious injury threshold does not need to be met in order to sue a negligent driver for full compensation. Instead, for a driver to bring forward a personal injury lawsuit, they must be able to prove the following.

  • The other driver owed you a standard duty of care. The standard duty of care is the reasonable expectation for the driver to be cautious on the road, as is expected of every driver.
  • The other driver violated this duty of care and in turn, was negligent in their actions.
  • Because of the other driver’s negligence, you were involved in an accident that caused your injury.
  • You incurred damage (monetary loss) following the car accident.

What Can a Victim Sue for Following an Injury?

All California drivers are required to have a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover damages following car accidents. Getting the insurance company to pay your claim might require intensive negotiations or a lawsuit. In any case, it’s important to have a lawyer represent you to get the best result.

Assuming that you have met the negligence requirements of a personal injury lawsuit, damages you can seek include the following:

  • Property damage
  • Cost of medical bills and medical treatment
  • Loss of income and wages including a loss of earning potential and lost future wages
  • Pain and suffering Including physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and mental trauma
  • Decrease in quality of life including loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and physical impairment
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Punitive damages in certain circumstances

Although California does not observe a serious injury threshold, victims of car accidents can be entitled to more or fewer damages depending on the circumstances of the car accident. Typically, the more serious the injury, the more a plaintiff can seek in damages. Understandably, the more serious an injury following a car accident, the more medical bills and medical treatment a victim may need. These added expenses will all play into higher economic and non-economic losses that a plaintiff can seek.

What If I Did Not Sustain Any Injuries Following a Car Accident?

You might still be able to pursue legal action even if you did not sustain any injuries during the car accident. While a plaintiff might not be able to seek a personal injury lawsuit, they can still pursue a property damage claim. In many cases, it may not be necessary to pursue a property damage lawsuit because insurance will typically cover the damages.

Speak With a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you were the victim of a car accident and suffered losses in the form of medical bills, lost income, property damages, and more, it’s important to understand your options.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for you can be vital in recovering the compensation you deserve. At Ochoa & Calderón, our dedicated team will work tirelessly to deliver the results you’re entitled to. Reach out today to schedule your free consultation.

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