When you sue someone for personal injury, you must establish the four legal elements of your claim: i) duty of care, ii) breach of duty, iii) causation, and iv) damages.
You might, for example, prove that a truck driver breached their duty to drive carefully, thereby causing an accident that caused you damages. In most states, the specifics of the duty of care are determined by referencing previous court cases.
California, however, uses California Civil Code Section 1714.
California Civil Code 1714
California Civil Code 1714 asserts that everyone is responsible for the financial consequences of their intentional acts and their negligent acts or omissions that reflect a lack of ordinary care or skill. If you suffer injury as a result of another person failing to use standard care, you have the right to seek compensation for damages such as:
- Medical bills,
- Lost earnings,
- Pain and suffering,
- Property damage,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
Nevertheless, if you contributed to your injury, it may reduce the liability of other at-fault parties. This concept is known as comparative negligence. You may still seek compensation, but the extent of damages is calculated based on your degree of fault.
Examples of Breaches of the Duty of Care in California
Following are some examples of acts or omissions that could cause you to bear civil liability under California law:
- Driving while intoxicated;
- Failing to follow traffic laws;
- Failing to repair a loose stairway railing in your home (if you invite guests);
- Failing to diagnose a patient’s serious illness, if you are a healthcare provider—this applies only if a “reasonably competent” healthcare provider would have successfully diagnosed the condition;
- Hiring a driver whose driver’s license was suspended for dangerous driving, without bothering to check the applicant’s driving record;
- Failing to remove ice and snow from your business’s parking lot; and
- Failing to supervise young children if you own a daycare center.
The foregoing examples illustrate some virtually unlimited circumstances that could generate liability under California’s 1714 Code Civil.
The Doctrine of Negligence Per Se
Under the doctrine of negligence per se, a defendant who violated a safety law would presumably bear liability on account of the violation. Although the driver could argue that they were not negligent under the circumstances, they would bear the burden of proof. Accordingly, proving that the defendant violated a law puts you in an excellent position to win your claim.
The Causation Problem
If you prove that the defendant breached their duty of care, you have proven negligence. Nevertheless, proving negligence doesn’t mean that you automatically win your claim. You must also prove that the defendant’s negligence caused you damages. You must also provide evidence of the extent of your damages.
We Stand Ready to Assist You
When it comes to a personal injury claim, nothing matters unless you can prove it. Proving personal injury claims, however, is what we do best. Call the Farzam Law Firm at 866-692-0074 or contact us online for a free consultation.