Proving Negligence In A California Injury Claim

Proving Negligence In A California Injury Claim

To prove negligence in a case of personal injury in California, the plaintiff would have to prove certain things, including that the duty of care was owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, that the defendant violated such duty through act of negligence; and that the negligence of the defendant was the major reason for the harm caused to the plaintiff. A person is often considered negligent when he doesn’t act with responsibility in a situation that warrants reasonable behavior. To understand the concept of proving negligence in a California injury claim case, there are certain concepts that you must be aware of.

Duty of Care

Under the personal injury law of California, people often owe ‘duty of care’ to other people. This duty is a creation of law – for example, day care centers and teachers have the responsibility of looking after kids who are under their care. Drivers must obey traffic rules so that they do not knock down pedestrians or create accident scenarios. Whether one owes or doesn’t owe duty of care and what the “duty” entails depends on specific scenarios.


According to California law, negligence is failing to use necessary care or measures to mitigate harm to another individual. An individual is considered negligent if he does a thing that a regular person wouldn’t have done under normal circumstances, or doesn’t do a particular thing that a regular person would have done.

Therefore, the job of the jury is to determine what a normal person would have done in a particular situation and whether the defendant’s actions were far from the obvious. For example, if a police officer is rushing to an accident or burglary spot at speeds above normal without activating his vehicle’s overhead lights and sirens, he is assumed guilty of negligence if he happens to slam into a pedestrian or another vehicle while on the move. If a pedestrian or another motorist is killed due to the accident, the family of the deceased person can file for wrongful death action against the police officer.

Negligence Defenses

Defendants could raise several defenses in such personal accident or injury cases to prove they weren’t negligent. The three most common defenses you would come across in California injury claims are

  • The defendant did not owe the plaintiff any duty of care
  • The plaintiff was primarily responsible for the scenario
  • The plaintiff assumed injury risk

Often, defendants would try claiming they had zero duty to act toward the plaintiff in a particular way. However, property owners, manufacturers, drivers, business owners, etc. have the duty to not cause harm to other people.

Defendants would also try to put the blame on the plaintiff for the injury or accident. Even if there was a case of comparative negligence or the plaintiff being partially at fault, the plaintiff can still recover partial damages.

Dealing with personal injury cases in California is quite a complex procedure, and the aforementioned information just scratches the surface. Therefore, if someone you know is injured by the negligence of another person and you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer in Southern California, contact us right away.


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