For the last thirty-five years, Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett has successfully represented clients who have been injured because of someone’s negligence. To be successful requires dedication, hard work, courage and experience. In handling negligence cases, the attorneys at Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett have dedicated themselves to provide the quality of representation the members of the firm would want for themselves if they or a family member were seriously injured.
The attorneys understand that few things worth having can be achieved without hard work. They know it takes courage to stand up to insurance companies and manufacturers who are willing to spend unlimited sums of money to try to beat the clients into submission. The attorneys at Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett have learned that effort and desire can only go so far if they are not backed up by experience. We believe the more you know, the better choice you will make.
The following is a short summary explaining the law of negligence.
California Law states that “Everyone is responsible . . for an injury occasioned by another for his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person . .” Civil Code §1714 (a). Simply put, one is responsible for any injury or damage caused by his negligent conduct. Negligence law comes into play in many types of cases, including motor vehicle accidents, slip or trip and falls, construction accidents, and almost any situation one can imagine where someone has been injured or harmed because another person acted carelessly.
The following is a short explanation of the law of negligence.
Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm. A person can be negligent by actions or failures to act. In determining if someone is negligent the jury is instructed that “a person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.” CACI 401
(CACI are the approved jury instructions from the Judicial Council of California. Jury instructions are read to the jury by the judge and establish the law the jury must follow in deciding the case. A partner of Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett has been formally recognized as one of the attorneys who assisted the task force in the preparation of these jury instructions.)
Proving negligence is the first step to recovery. The injured party must also prove that the negligence was a cause of injury or damage. To prove that negligence was a cause, the law requires proof that the negligent act was a substantial factor in causing the harm. “A substantial factor in causing harm is a factor that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm. It must be more than a remote or trivial factor. It does not have to be the only cause of the harm.” CACI 430
Once the jury has been persuaded that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence was a substantial factor in causing the harm, the jury then decides how much money will compensate the plaintiff for the harm. The harm consists of both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, lost earning capacity, loss of one’s ability to provide household services, lost profits, damages to property and loss of use of property. CACI 3903A-N.
Non-economic damages include past and future physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment or life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress. CACI 3905A
In certain situations one can recover damages even if the negligence did not cause a direct injury to the one who is making the claim. One example is when a husband, wife or child has been killed, the surviving spouse, children and parents can recover loss of consortium. These damages include loss of financial support, loss of gifts as benefits, funeral and burial expense, value of household services that would have been provided and the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, training, guidance and the loss of enjoyment of sexual relations. CACI 3921, 3922
When a spouse has been seriously injured but not killed, the non-injured spouse can also seek compensation for similar damages. CACI 3920 This is referred to as loss of consortium and it is considered to be non-economic damage.
In cases where the defendant has committed fraud or has acted oppressively or maliciously, the plaintiff may seek punitive or exemplary damages. These damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer for the conduct and to discourage similar conduct in the future. CACI 3947
Unfortunately, just because one is legally entitled to recover damages does not always result in a favorable outcome. It is the job of the attorney to present the case in a way to maximize the opportunity for a successful result. For related information about specific injuries go to Injury Definitions.
The attorneys at Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett have authored numerous articles and have lectured extensively on the subject of negligence law, damages and trial practice.