If you’ve been injured in an accident, you can face mounting medical bills, lost wages, and other financial costs as you struggle to regain your life. The last thing you need is to add legal expenses to your debt burden. However, there is no need to worry about finances, our injury lawyers represent you on a contingency basis. That means you don’t have to pay out of pocket to hire a personal injury lawyer. San Jose law firm Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP offers free no-obligation consultations to injury victims, so call today.
Personal Injury Practice Areas
Each area of California’s law is different. If you’ve been injured in an accident, make sure the law firm you choose has experience handling personal injury cases in the specific practice area that applies. Here are some types of personal injury cases handled by Caputo & Van Der Walde.
According to the California Department of Transportation, one out of every 10 automobile accidents nationwide occurs in this state. Automobile collisions are one of the most common causes of negligently caused injuries in the San Jose, CA area. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you are entitled to compensation.
Commercial trucks can weigh up to 40 tons, making them a hazard in a motor vehicle accident, even at low speeds. Truck accidents involve a highly specialized area of California’s injury law because of the extensive federal and state regulations that apply to commercial trucks and their drivers.
In terms of motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle crashes may be one of the most significant causes of catastrophic injuries. Motorcycles offer little personal protection and operate at high speeds, meaning the rider is extremely vulnerable to injuries in motorcycle accidents. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to damages.
Pedestrian Accidents and Bike Accidents
Motorists have a duty of care for pedestrians and cyclists. Naturally, these injury victims have little or no protection when involved in a car accident. Our law firm will hold the negligent driver and other parties involved accountable for their actions. These cases can involve complex right-of-way issues as well as special laws regulating bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
Premises Liability Cases
San Jose property owners and proprietors have a legal responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe for visitors, tenants, and employees. Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of premises liability cases and often result in significant fractures to the knee joint and knee cap. Depending upon the type of trip or slip and fall involved, head injuries are also quite common. In fact, deaths resulting from these accidents are on the rise. According to the CDC, the death rates among older adults from falls steadily increased over a ten-year period.
In addition to mass transit vehicles being larger than most other vehicles, their passengers are dependent on the operators for their safety. Sudden stops, turns, and even minor crashes can send the occupants careening into the seats or against the walls, or they can result in fall injuries.
When we think about train accidents, we usually think about train derailments. While these do occur, much more frequently there is a failure with the train detection system resulting in a catastrophe when the crossing gates, lights, bells, and other warnings fail to warn a vehicle of the train’s approach. This is seen in cities when the railroads try to save costs by not posting signs and flaggers when maintenance of way machines are being used to repair the tracks. These machines can weigh upwards of 40,000 lbs and can travel up to 40 MPH. Other times at rural train crossings there may not be crossing protections even when they are needed due to the terrain or other obstructions.
Animal owners are responsible for ensuring that their pets are under control. Even if the dog is well trained, the owner is responsible for the physical injuries their pet causes. This is strict liability meaning if you don’t have control of your dog and someone is injured as a result, the owner or handler will be responsible for any resulting damages. It doesn’t even matter if a dog has ever been aggressive or ever bit anyone before.
Product manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products. Design defects occur when there is a flaw in the manufacturing design while manufacturing defects only affect a specific item or batch of items. A product can also be defective if the distributor fails to warn of a known risk or danger.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you’ve lost a loved one in a San Jose accident due to someone else’s negligence, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover damages for your loss. In addition to the financial compensation that the decedent would have been owed, if you have standing under California law, you could file a personal injury claim for medical expenses prior to death, burial expenses, future lost income, loss of consortium, and more.
In order to have standing (to be a person with a right to file suit in that court), you must have one of the following relationships with the deceased:
- Heir of the estate
- Next of kin
- Personal representative of the estate
Our personal injury lawyers can help you seek justice for your loved one.
While assault is a crime in California, you can also seek redress under the law via a personal injury lawsuit. The civil case is not dependent on the outcome of the criminal case, so even if they beat the charge, you can still receive fair compensation. If they are convicted, liability for the personal injuries caused is presumed and damages can be recovered through a civil lawsuit, restitution and/or the Victims of Crime Foundation.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury due to another’s negligence or your family member is the subject of a wrongful death claim, you need a personal injury lawyer who has specific experience with your type of case. Allow the personal injury attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP to assess your liability and damages claims. We can offer you a free case evaluation, at the end of which you will have a much better understanding of the compensation you should receive for your accident case.
Types of Injuries
These are some common injury types that are the subject of personal injury claims:
- Broken bones
- Sprain/Strain (Whiplash)
- Internal Injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Even if your injuries aren’t as severe as some of the ones listed above, you may still be entitled to make an insurance claim. Our personal injury lawyers will analyze your case to see if we can help, and if so, we will seek the maximum compensation allowed under the law.
Damages in California Accident Cases
The state of California allows plaintiffs to seek compensation for personal injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. Compensation is divided into three categories:
These represent the financial costs associated with an accident. Economic damages include the cost of past and future medical care, lost wages, property damage, etc. In a wrongful death claim, economic damages will also include funeral expenses and the future lost income of the decedent.
While economic damages reimburse plaintiffs for their financial losses, non-economic damages address the intangible costs of an accident, such as physical pain, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of life quality, etc. Personal injury lawyers also refer to non-economic damages as “pain and suffering.” In wrongful death cases, general damages consist of your loss of love, comfort, companionship, and support from your loved one.
While economic and non-economic damages are compensatory in nature, the court may award punitive damages to penalize the parties responsible for reckless or intentional behavior. For example, if an investigation discovers that a negligent driver was drunk at the time of an accident, the court may award punitive damages for this reckless conduct in addition to compensatory damages.
Our San Jose personal injury lawyers will review all aspects of your claim. Once we’ve reviewed all of the important evidence and have established that your injuries were caused by someone else’s carelessness, we will be able to help determine full and fair compensation for your losses. Contact us for a free consultation.
Elements of Liability
In order to successfully pursue compensation, San Jose personal injury lawyers must determine whether all four elements of liability are present. If one or more of the elements are in question, an insurance company will not honor the claim. Here are the four elements of liability:
1. The Defendant Had a Duty of Care to the Plaintiff
There are many different types of duties of care. Drivers have a duty of care for other drivers, pedestrians, etc. A San Jose property owner has a duty of care for the safety of visitors, tenants, and employees. An employer has the responsibility to prevent workplace accidents, and this duty can’t be delegated by hiring some company to maintain the facility.
2. The Defendant Breached Their Duty of Care
The next element that personal injury attorneys will look for is a breach of duty. For example, in motor vehicle accidents, negligent drivers often breach their duty of care when they violate the vehicle code, such as by speeding or failing to keep a proper lookout for other traffic on the roadway.
3. The Breach of Duty Caused an Accident
This is referred to as causation. In other words, an accident occurs because of the defendant’s breach of duty. Under California’s comparative negligence law, the Defendant’s conduct only has to be a substantial factor in causing the injuries complained of In order for an injured party to recover proportional compensation. The amount of compensation that they can collect is decreased by the percentage of their own negligence.
4. The Accident Caused Damages
If you have personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence, then you have been damaged under California law. The law requires that a person be a substantial factor in causing injuries to another in order to be held responsible for their damages.
During your initial consultation, a San Jose personal injury attorney from Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP will examine your claim. If all four elements exist, we can represent you in your pursuit of damages.
Steps to Take After an Accident
All accidents are different, and each accident type presents unique challenges for both the injury victim and their personal injury attorney. With this in mind, the first minutes after an accident can be critical. The following tips may help you avoid further injury and strengthen your case.
- Get to a Safe Place – Your health has to come first. If you are in a dangerous place, move to a different location. Oftentimes, secondary accidents happen immediately after the first event.
- Call 911 – The dispatcher will want to know your exact location, the nature of your injuries, the cause of the accident, etc. Try to remain calm and provide the information that they request.
- Talk to Witnesses – Independent witnesses can be invaluable in your pursuit of a fair settlement. If the witnesses won’t stay to talk to the police, ask for their contact information. Our legal team can contact them at a later time.
- Take Photographs – Accident scenes change rapidly. If your accident occurred on someone else’s property, you might not get access to it again. From a safe location, try to document the accident scene as is. You’ll want to include an overall picture of the scene, any visible injuries, property damage, hazardous materials, debris, etc.
- Seek Medical Care – Allow medics to examine you, and if necessary, go to the hospital. This will not hurt your case. In fact, it may help establish a baseline for your injuries.
- Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer – Before you consider accepting a settlement from the insurance company, contact our San Jose personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.
Personal Injury FAQs
The following are the questions that accident victims ask when they sit down with our legal team. For specific information about your case, you can talk to one of our San Jose personal injury lawyers without paying legal fees.
Will I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
While we often file lawsuits on behalf of our personal injury clients, the majority of cases do not result in trial but rather are resolved during the litigation and the many opportunities for settlement presented during this process. However, if, during negotiations, or litigation, our San Jose personal injury attorneys are unable to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, we always prepare for trial as it is the best way to get a fair settlement.
How can I afford an attorney?
San Jose area personal injury law firms like ours represent clients on a contingency basis. That means that instead of charging a retainer and working against that amount, we waive our fees until the end of the case. When you receive a settlement or court award, we receive a portion of those proceeds. In most cases, the proceeds of the case are substantial enough to cover the contingency fees. If we don’t win, we do not receive payment.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in California?
California typically allows two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. In wrongful death cases, the statute of limitations expires two years from the date of death. These Statutes of limitation are also affected by the claimant’s age and whether one of the defendants is a public entity. In these cases, the time may be longer or shorter than the typical two-year statutory period.
Are there damage caps in California?
No. Unlike other states, California does not cap damages in personal injury cases. After collecting evidence and assessing your case, your San Jose attorney will prepare a demand for settlement based upon your economic and non-economic damages based upon our experience and which have previously paid on insurance claims for similar injuries.
San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys
If you’ve been injured by the negligence of another, you should recover damages. Contact Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP, to speak to a lawyer. We offer free consultations, and you will never have to pay out of pocket for our professional legal advice, only when we win your case!