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What’s Really Needed To Win A Personal Injury Case In California?

Tort law is a legal term to describe civil actions seeking money damages for injuries caused by the negligence of another party (the defendant). Trial lawyers who handle tort cases are experienced at presenting evidence to prove the elements of the claim to juries in a story format that is clear, simple and compelling.

Proving a personal injury case isn’t easy. A lawyer must prove various elements to prevail for their client (the plaintiff).

Step 1: A Lawyer Must Prove The Defendant Had A Duty Of Care

Was the defendant negligent?

Whenever someone is alleged to have been negligent, be it driving a car, designing a highway or using deadly force, the party suing for damages (the plaintiff) must prove the person being sued (the defendant) had a duty of care to the plaintiff. A physician, for instance, who agrees to care for a sick person has a duty of care to that person.

Step 2: Did The Defendant Breach The Duty Of Care?

Did the accident happen because the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff?

Under the law, the defendant has to have breached their duty of care to the injured party. For example, a person driving a car has a duty of care to other drivers and passengers on the road. That driver breaches their duty if they drive drunk and hit another vehicle.

Step 3: The Breach Must Be The Cause Of the Injury

To establish liability, one party must have breached a legal duty to another party. But simply because a defendant “breaches” a duty, does not necessarily mean they are responsible for the damage caused.

A common legal test is often referred to as the “but for” test. “But for” the defendant’s negligence, would the plaintiff have been injured?


If the engineer of a train hits a car that crossed the train tracks and injures the passengers in the car, is the engineer responsible? It depends. What if the train lights and signal malfunctioned and didn’t trigger so the car proceeded to cross the tracks?

The engineer may have had a duty to look out for the passengers and breached that duty but was his negligence the “direct” cause of the incident. But for the light malfunction, would the vehicle have been hit by the train?

The concept seems simple, but in practice, it often is not.

Step 4: Proving Harm or “Damages”

In any personal injury cases, a plaintiff must have experienced actual harm to recover damages. Once an attorney proves all previous elements, they will seek damages for their client based on the long-term financial consequences of their specific injury. Economic damages, such as doctor visits and surgical procedures are often south. Noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, are another type.

How much will depend on a trial attorney’s ability to explain the impact on the plaintiff’s injury after the accident and in the years to come to the jury.

Work With A Plaintiff’s Lawyer With Almost 30 Years Of Experience

San Diego trial attorney Gregory M. Garrison has spent hours in courtrooms throughout the state of California. He knows how to litigate catastrophic injury cases and has a track record of getting real results of clients. He knows the importance of proving the elements of a case and telling the story of a life-changing injury in a way juries truly understand.

Request A Free Consultation Today

If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic personal injury, hiring the right attorney is vital to your economic recovery. Attorney Gregory M. Garrison has been litigating and obtaining results in catastrophic and serious injury cases for years. He knows the law. Reach out to Gregory M. Garrison, APC, to learn more about his background and how he can help you.

Call Gregory M. Garrison, APC, at 619-798-9501 or send an email to request a consultation. Flexible appointments are available. Consultations are free. Choosing the wrong lawyer isn’t.