What Is a Personal Injury Case?

San Diego, California, residents can suffer serious injuries in various types of accidents. These accidents can result in expensive medical bills, extensive time away from work, and painful injuries. Through a personal injury case, you may be able to recover financial compensation when the harm you have suffered was caused by the negligence of another person or entity. 

If you were hurt in a car accident, truck accident, or other types of personal injury incident, Mission Personal Injury Lawyers can help. Call or text us today at (619) 374-9673 so we can explain your legal rights. In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about what a personal injury case is.

Basis of Personal Injury Law

Personal injury law derives from tort law, which provides financial recompense to someone who is injured because of the negligent or intentional actions of others. California law provides a legal basis for someone who is hurt by another person’s willful acts or their want of ordinary skill to seek financial compensation against that person for the harm they have suffered.  

Common Causes of Personal Injury Cases

Most personal injury cases arise because of the negligent actions of a person or entity, such as in cases involving:

If you believe that you were injured in a personal injury incident, reach out to an experienced lawyer for help. 

What You Must Prove in a Personal Injury Case

You must be able to establish certain legal elements in order to recover compensation for your personal injury case. In most cases, that means proving the four elements of negligence, which are:


The first legal element you must be able to prove is that the defendant owed a duty to you. For example, the following types of duties may apply in these types of cases:

  • A driver owes a duty of care to other motorists to obey the rules of the road and drive safely to prevent accidents
  • A property owner must keep their property in a safe condition for visitors
  • A dog owner must keep their dog restrained to prevent it from biting others
  • A trucking company must obey state and federal regulations to keep trucks in a safe condition 
  • A doctor owes a duty to provide care consistent with the applicable standard of care

Absent special rules, all people generally owe other people using ordinary care and prudence. Duty is typically a legal question, and a personal injury lawyer can help establish it.

Breach of Duty

Next, you must show that the defendant breached the duty of care. For example, the following actions (or inactions) might demonstrate a breach of duty:

  • A driver texts while driving and does not pay attention to the traffic around them
  • A grocery store employee sees a spill on the floor and does not clean it up
  • A dog owner negligently allows their dog to run loose
  • A trucking company fails to have its vehicles regularly inspected and maintained
  • A doctor fails to order necessary tests for a patient 

A personal injury lawyer can gather evidence and question witnesses to help establish the defendant failed to live up to their duty of care.  


You must also show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your injuries. For example, you fell on a wet floor, or a distracted driver crashed into you. 


Finally, you must show you suffered damages, which is some type of harm that you can be compensated for.

Compensation You Could Recover from a Personal Injury Accident

As the victim of a personal injury, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for the harm you have suffered. Depending on the circumstances, this may include:

  • Medical expenses – You can seek compensation for emergency transport to a hospital, hospital stays, rehabilitation, follow-up doctor appointments, laboratory testing, medical devices, and prescription medication. You can also seek compensation for medical expenses you anticipate incurring in the future. 
  • Lost wages – You can pursue compensation for the wages and employment benefits you lost while you were receiving treatment or recovering from your injuries.
  • Lost earning potential – You can also seek compensation for a reduction in your earning capacity if your injuries cause you to be permanently disabled or make you have to transition to a lower-paying job.
  • Property damage – You may also be able to receive compensation for any of your personal property that was damaged in the accident, such as for car repairs necessitated by a car crash.
  • Non-economic damages – California law recognizes that not all types of harm are financial in nature. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.

In rare cases where the defendant acted with malice or recklessness, punitive damages might be available as well.

California Rules on Personal Injury Claims

Some important rules in California regarding personal injury claims are:

  • Statute of limitations – California’s statute of limitations generally sets a limit of two years to file a personal injury case in court.
  • Claims against the government – If the personal injury case is against the government, the claimant generally has six months to bring forth a claim.
  • Damage caps – California law limits the amount of damages plaintiffs in certain types of cases can recover. For example, the non-economic losses in a medical malpractice case are limited to $250,000 in California.
  • Comparative fault – California follows a comparative fault model when assessing damages for personal injury claims. This means that the amount of your recovery is reduced by the degree of your own fault. For example, if you are found to be 10% at fault for an accident, your damages are reduced by 10%. 

Experienced personal injury lawyers are aware of these laws and can help ensure you comply with them.

What Should You Do After a Personal Injury Accident?

If you are involved in a personal injury incident, there are certain things you can do to help protect your health and your possible legal claim. By taking the following steps, you can establish liability for your injury, its severity, and the extent to which the injuries impact your life. These steps will help better position you to receive compensation for the damages you have suffered:

  • Seek medical attention. Your first priority after any personal injury incident is to tend to your health. Many injuries are not immediately noticeable, and the adrenaline surge you experience after an accident may mask some injuries. Obtaining prompt medical attention can ensure that your injuries are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
  • Collect evidence – The scene where you were injured may not exist for long or may be cleaned up. Do what you can to preserve evidence, such as taking pictures of the accident scene and getting contact information for any witnesses who observed the accident.
  • Keep records of the personal injury incident. You may have accident reports, pictures, medical records, pay stubs, and other records that pertain to the accident and how it has affected you. Keep these records in a safe place so you can provide them to your lawyer to help support your claim.

Also, contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can help you with your claim.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers

If you were injured because of the negligence of another party, contact Mission Personal Injury Lawyers. California personal injury law allows victims to recover compensation for the harm they have experienced. We can explain your rights during a free consultation. Call us at (619) 777-5555.