Who Can I Sue if I am Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident in California?
When an individual is physically injured, the injured person (and sometimes affected family members) can bring civil lawsuits to recover substantial money damages. Trials of civil lawsuits, at their core, can be broken down into two parts: liability and damages.
Sue liable parties: Generally, an injured person can recover from the person who is found to be legally responsible (liable) for his injuries.
Proving liability in your case: The injured party has the burden of demonstrating that they were the victim of negligence as a result of the conduct of the other party (the defendant). In California, to prove negligence, the injured person will have to show: (1) the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care with respect to the injured person, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the defendant's breach caused plaintiff's injuries, (4) the plaintiff suffered damages.
Who do I sue in a car accident case?
In California, there are multiple possible defendants in a car accident case, including, but not limited to:
1. Other driver(s): In a car accident, often the most obvious defendant will be the driver who was primarily at fault. Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. If another driver fails to exercise that duty of care and then crashes into you, you may be able to sue that driver. Similarly, if Driver A crashes into Driver B, who then crashes into you, you may be able to sue Driver A as well as Driver B.
2. Owners of other vehicles: If driver is not the owner of the vehicle, you may also be able to sue the owner of the vehicle. Vehicle owners may have a duty to, among other things, reasonably maintain their vehicles and make sure they are being operated by responsible drivers. If the other vehicle is owned by a business, the injured individual may be able to sue the business as well as the driver.
3. Public entities: Public entities responsible for maintaining the road on which the accident occurred may also be found liable. For example, in some cases, if the city or other governmental entity responsible for maintaining the roads fails to repair a massive pothole, a broken guardrail, or some other defective part of the road system, you may be able to sue the city/governmental entity. Similarly, the city/governmental entity might be found liable for defective traffic devices, poorly designed intersections, and improper maintenance.
4. Vehicle manufacturer: If the vehicle was defectively manufactured or designed, individuals may also sue automobile manufacturers in some cases.
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