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Filing a Personal Injury Claim in California

Personal injury law is complex, so having an attorney to help you navigate the process and maximize your chances of the claim can be helpful. When most people think of personal injury, they usually think of car accidents. While car accidents are common personal injury cases, many other types of personal injuries can occur. 

Whatever the type of injury, if it was someone’s intentional act, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. At our firm, we want to make sure that you receive the best possible representation, and will fight for you every step of the way so that you can get the justice you deserve. We know that being injured can be a life-changing event, and we are here to help you get through it.

What Is Intentional Injury

Intentional injury is a legal term that refers to an injury or death caused by a willful act or lack of the same. The law applies this term in various contexts, including workers’ compensation claims, criminal law, and personal injury lawsuits.

In the context of workers’ compensation claims, for example, an employee has suffered an intentional injury when his injury or death is proximately caused by a willful act or lack of the same by the employer (Labor laws Code § 3602(b). For example, if an employee were physically assaulted by the employer and suffered injuries as a result, that assault would be considered an intentional injury. 

Similarly, if a manufacturer knowingly sold a defective product and caused injury to someone who used it, that would also be considered an intentional injury. This is called injury from fraudulent concealment (Labor Code § 3602(b)(2).

In criminal law, intentional injury spans a broad spectrum of areas. For example, assault with intent to commit murder is a deliberate crime because it requires proof that the defendant intended to kill his victim. In personal injury lawsuits, an injured party must prove that their injuries resulted from someone else’s intentional acts (such as assault) or failure to act.

Examples of Intentional Injuries in Southern California 

If you’ve been injured intentionally, it is important to understand the potential liabilities. Some of the possible intentional injury cases include:

Intentional Injury in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases often involve issues of intent as well. For doctors and other health care providers to be found liable for medical malpractice, they must have acted intentionally (that is, without regard for safety). Also, the intentional act or omission should be the proximate cause of a personal injury.

The following parties could be sued for intentional injury in medical malpractice:

  • Podiatrists
  • Pharmacists
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nurses
  • Physical therapists
  • Laboratories
  • Doctors
  • Chiropractors
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Psychologists

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

If you suffer emotional distress due to another person’s intentional acts, you may file a claim for damages based on intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). Under California law, the claim must prove that the defendant’s outrageous conduct caused emotional distress and was done with reckless disregard for the effects on the victim (intentionally).

In California, emotional distress includes but is not limited to:

  • Anguish
  • Humiliation
  • Grief
  • Horror
  • Nervousness
  • Shame
  • Worry 
  • Shock 

To recover damages under intentional infliction of distress, the plaintiff must prove that it was severe. In other words, it must have been substantial that it was not reasonably expected to bear it.  

Intentional Transmission of HIV / AIDS

Intentional transmission of HIV is the deliberate infection that may be done through sexual intercourse or transfusions with infected blood. The infected person should be aware that they are infected – but do not disclose their status as positive for HIV. 

Road Rage-Related Injuries

Road rage is aggressive driving behavior that often involves driving aggressively toward another driver on the road, usually because of some perceived slight or inconvenience caused by another driver’s actions. 

For example, one driver might try to run another driver off the road to cause an accident, a driver might try to force another driver into making an unsafe lane change, or a driver may try to hit another vehicle with his own car and cause damage. This type of behavior could result in intentional injury.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. It can range from sexual touching to rape. Examples include rape, sodomy, fondling, incest, and forced penetration. Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the United States. Many victims say they have never reported their sexual assault to police because they feared retaliation – or felt ashamed and guilty about what had happened to them.

Injuries from sexual assault range from bruises to broken bones to death (aggravated sexual assault). It is not uncommon for victims of sexual assault to experience emotional trauma as well as physical pain.

Financial Fraud

Financial fraud can be committed by anyone who uses deception or false pretenses to steal money or property from another person. Examples include identity theft, telemarketing scams, and home repair scams. Victims of financial fraud may experience extreme financial loss as well as mental anguish and stress.

Past Cases and Outcomes of Intentional Injury Cases 

A person may be liable for the intentional infliction of emotional distress if they act intentionally or recklessly in a way that causes severe emotional distress to another. 

Let’s look at some of the past cases:

Fletcher v. Western National Life Insurance Co. (1970) 

In 1970, the California Supreme Court rendered its decision in Fletcher v. Western National Life Insurance Co., 10 Cal.App.3d 376, 376-377 (1970). The case involved a plaintiff who was injured at work and was denied disability benefits by his employer’s insurance carrier because his preexisting condition made him ineligible for benefits. 

The plaintiff sued the insurance company and alleged several causes of action, including intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on this cause of action and awarded him damages to compensate for his emotional distress. The defendants contested that the plaintiff failed to prove facts leading to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Hughes v. Pair (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1035

The plaintiff sought damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual harassment. The trial court held that the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to state a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress against the plaintiff. The California Supreme Court ruling held that a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress does not extend to mere insults or petty oppressions but must instead involve “outrageous behavior” that “exceeds all bounds tolerated in a civilized community.” 

The court concluded that the inappropriate comments made by the defendant didn’t constitute an outrageous act. An intentional injury claim might be difficult to prove. As shown, you must demonstrate that your emotional distress was so severe and prolonged that it resulted in physical injury or illness.

What to Do After an Accident

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may be unsure about what to do next. Here are some steps to take if you are injured in a car accident:

Call 911

If you are severely injured in an accident, call 911 immediately. The police will come and start an investigation into the crash, which can help determine the fault for the accident.

Get names and contact information of all parties involved

Ask them to write down what they saw and heard during the accident so that you have their accounts on record for later use.

Do not admit fault or responsibility

You don’t want anything said at this point to be used against you later when it comes time to settle claims with other parties involved in your accident. Do not admit fault or responsibility until after police officers or insurance adjusters have investigated.

Take pictures of any visible damage 

If possible, take pictures of both vehicles involved in your collision and any skid marks left behind on roadways or sidewalks. This could help with evidence later to support your claim.

Go to the hospital 

Be sure to have doctors assess your injuries and start treating them immediately if needed. 

Contact a personal injury lawyer in Southern California

An attorney can help you to file a claim with the insurance company within the California statute of limitations. They will start investigating the accident to ensure that your interests are protected while pursuing damages. 

Get Help for Your Personal Injury

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Southern California due to an intentional act, it’s crucial to get help as soon as possible. A southern California intentional injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and explain the legal process for your personal injury claim.

At KJT Law Group, we represent clients who have been injured because of unlawful actions by others. Our team will guide you through every step of the legal process and help you pursue financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disability payments, property damage, and more. Call us at (818) 507-8525 today for a free consultation.

If you or someone you love was injured due to another person’s negligence, contact KJT Law Group at (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.

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