Petaluma Personal Injury Lawyer
Knowledgeable Petaluma Personal Injury Attorney Ready To Fight For You
The city of Petaluma, CA, is an incredible place to call home. Located in Sonoma County and very close to wine country, it boasts many wine, beer, and other festivals throughout the year. It is home to Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival, the Wine Country Spoken Word Festival, the Petaluma Antique Faire, and the Art & Garden Festival, among many others. And with all of this to do year-round, we are a city of people on the go. But, sadly, accidents can happen when you are on the go.
Do you live in the Petaluma area? Have you been the unfortunate victim of a bicycle, motorcycle, or truck accident? If so, you may currently be feeling overwhelmed. You may have sustained a significant and lasting injury, or even worse still, you may have lost a loved one as a result of one of these tragic incidents.
Feeling overwhelmed is understandable, but you should never feel like you have nowhere to turn. Here at Henderson Law, our proven Petaluma personal injury lawyer is ready to fight for you. We have decades of experience handling these claims in Petaluma and throughout California. We would be honored to have the opportunity to put that experience to work on your behalf.
As anyone who has recently spent time on the expressways understands, they are full of tremendously large-sized trucks. In fact, it is virtually impossible to drive on them for more than a minute or two without seeing at least one 18-wheeler or other large semi-truck. These trucks are essential to the commerce that our fast-paced world requires, and undoubtedly, they perform a valuable service. Unfortunately, they can also often be dangerous and capable of significant destruction when involved in an accident.
Anyone who has seen a large truck recently would probably be unsurprised to hear that these vehicles can weigh almost thirty times as much as a car. As a result, if you’re the driver of a car and you’re in an accident with a truck, the chances are high that you’ll be the one to sustain significant damage.
It is not uncommon to experience significant and lasting injuries or even death as a result of these accidents. This is extremely unfortunate and made even more so by the fact that these accidents are all too often the result of negligence on the part of the truck driver.
Too many truck drivers on the road are exhausted or are otherwise often taking drugs or prescription medications to stay awake. They can be reckless in their driving, or the possibility exists that they’ve improperly maintained their truck with respect to maintenance or storage of hazardous items. Any of these forms of negligence could cause an accident in an instant that can create lifelong difficulties. If you or a loved one is a victim of one of these accidents, our trusted Petaluma personal injury attorneys can help.
In California, we have beautiful weather, and as a result, we have many motorcyclists. When driven safely and in safe conditions, motorcycles can be great fun and very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the problem is that a safe roadway cannot always be guaranteed. Motorcyclists are often the victims of accidents and collisions with much larger and more solidly built vehicles.
When this happens, it is often the cyclist that bears the brunt of the damage. Certainly, motorcycle accidents can be caused by the negligence of the motorcycle driver. But in many cases they are, instead, caused by the recklessness or distracted driving of others, a defective part in the motorcycle itself, or dangerous roadway conditions – to name only a few of many causes.
If the negligence of another, a product defect, or dangerous roadways are responsible for your accident or that of your loved one, you may be entitled to recover damages. Let the proven Petaluma personal injury lawyers of Henderson Law help you.
California is a state with many bicyclists. Many ride for fun and for leisure, and many use a bicycle as their primary means of transportation. As a cyclist, you likely know that it is very important to follow the rules of the road, including wearing a helmet, driving in designated bike lanes, and taking other important safety precautions. Unfortunately, however, other drivers also have a duty to follow the rules of the road and many times do not do so. When this happens, cyclists are often the victims.
If you have been the victim of a cycling accident, you may have sustained significant injury. Perhaps you have even lost a loved one in a cycling accident. If that is the case, we are very sorry and we are here to help.
California Negligence Law
Whether you have been involved in a trucking, car, bicycle, or motorcycle accident, you can recover damages when the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. Even if you are partly at fault for the accident, California’s comparative negligence laws allow you to recover for the percentage that the other driver was at fault. In other words, if you were 20% at fault and the other driver was 80% at fault, you can recover up to 80% of your damages.
Negligence is the most common basis for personal injury lawsuits. So understanding some basics about this legal concept can be helpful as you contemplate your next move. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show the following:
- The defendant had a duty to either act, or refrain from acting;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- That the defendant’s breach of duty was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- That the plaintiff suffered actual damages.
At a basic level, the duty of care that one person owes another in California is obvious. Each person has the duty to act in a reasonable way so as to avoid injuring or harming others. Likewise, they have a duty to refrain from actions that foreseeably could cause harm. Some people, like doctors, may have an increased duty of care. But for the most part, it is a “reasonable person” standard.
Breach of Duty
This again is pretty self-explanatory. When a person fails to exercise reasonable care in relation to others, they are said to have breached their duty of care.
In order to prove negligence, the breach of duty must be the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. This means that the negligent behavior must be closely related to the injuries so as to show a causal effect.
Actual damages are concrete, tangible damages that can be easily proven. Out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills would be an example of actual damages. Less tangible damages like pain and suffering can often still be obtained in the course of a personal injury settlement or lawsuit. But if there are no actual damages to start with, the case may be weak or even untenable.
We spoke a bit about actual damages. These are incredibly important because, with no tangible, measurable damages, your case is not likely to succeed. Tangible economic losses are those that can typically be proven with receipts and/or invoices and include things like:
- Medical Expenses
- Therapy Expenses
- Loss of Income
In California, a victim of an accident can also recover damages that are not related to direct, out-of-pocket expenses like those listed above. These are less tangible losses like loss of enjoyment of life, loss of marital relations or consortium, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. Although there may not be a direct price tag on these types of damages, they are very real, just the same, and deserve to be compensated for. The law may not be able to restore these things, but we can compensate victims financially for them.
Punitive damages are in a class unto themselves. They are not meant to compensate the victim or even make the victim whole. They are specifically requested and sometimes granted when the behavior of the defendant is especially egregious.
It is not easy to obtain punitive damages. The victim must prove either:
- That the defendant engaged in an intentional tort, or
- That there was wanton and willful misconduct.
Intentional torts are acts on the part of the defendant that are wrongful and intentional. They are not mistakes or even negligent acts. An example would be a motorist that intentionally crashed into someone because they wanted to hurt them. However unlikely this particular example is, it captures the essence of an intentional tort. If someone were to do this, a judge may allow punitive damages in order to deter other similar acts.
Wanton and willful misconduct is similar, but not exactly the same. Willful and intentional are essentially synonyms, so intentional acts are covered within the definition of this category of acts. However, this legal phrase also includes acts that are done with a reckless disregard for the safety of others. In other words, racing someone on a busy highway may not be done with the intention of killing someone, but it is done with the knowledge that going 90 MPH on an expressway may cause a horrific accident where death may occur. Therefore, it was done with a reckless disregard for the lives of others, and could, therefore, be referred to as wanton and willful misconduct.
Punitive damages could be awarded in the above cases. If granted, they are meant to actually punish the defendant. Judges sometimes allow for punitive damages in an attempt to make an example out of the defendant and to dissuade them and anyone else from behaving in such a reckless way in the future.
Call Henderson Law Today
If you or a loved one are the victim of a trucking accident, a motorcycle accident, a car accident, or a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your losses, including payment of medical bills, lost wages and future earning potential, punitive damages, damages for loss of consortium, wrongful death benefits, and more. Schedule a consultation with our office today. Our skilled Petaluma personal injury attorney will be able to advise you of your rights under the law and what your next steps should be toward fighting for the recovery that you deserve. We look forward to speaking with you soon.