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John M. O'Brien & Associates, P.C. is a personal injury law firm located in Elk Grove, Sacramento area. John O'Brien and his staff are dedicated to helping people who are affected by serious injuries.

"We have taken a special interest in catastrophic injury cases, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries and wrongful death. We recognize that these types of injuries change our clients' lives forever. As a result, we have dedicated much of our practice to helping such victims get the compensation they need to pursue the highest quality of life following a traumatic injury."

What You Need to Know about a Personal Injury Case

When someone gets injured in an accident or as a result of a negligent act that person's insurance company will determine to what extent they will cover the injury related expenses. The basic long-term things you need to be aware regarding a personal injury are:

  • In many cases, the true extent of an injury gets fully revealed only years after the accident
  • Your injuries might heal but you may still face life longpain and discomfort
  • Closely related to the seriousness of your injuries is the risk of severe financial problems
  • The prolonged medical treatment and nursing care you might need for your recovery can come at a great price
  • Your injuries may also bring financial difficulties through lost wages (as you miss days at work)
  • Severe injuries can also leave you incapable of working altogether.

What is Tort Law?

Tort law regulates violations involving injury, harm or loss caused by one individual to another. Therefore, tort law will cover the following types of lawsuits:

  • Personal injury cases
  • Privacy rights cases
  • Property violations cases.

Civil tort law is different from criminal law in that jail or prison time may not be imposed in a tort case. Usually the liable party will have to pay the victim monetary damages for their losses or a judge may order the defendant to stop doing their tortuous actions.

The tort law may vary from state to state in terms of:

  • Aspects of the trial
  • Defenses and liability
  • Evidentiary hearings
  • Jury guidelines
  • Procedural aspects
  • Damage awards.

Types of Personal Injury Catastrophic Cases

Catastrophic injuries are extremely severe injuries that lead to a serious need for:

  • Medical attention
  • Physical therapy
  • Extended recovery
  • Even prosthetics (replacement of missing organs or limbs with artificial substitutes).

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries are defined by the severity and the impact they have on someone’s life. They include:

  • Spine injury
  • Amputation
  • Wrongful death
  • Burn injury
  • Brain injury.

The most frequent causes of catastrophic injuries are:

  • Car or motorcycle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall accidents.

Your life may change dramatically after a catastrophic injury, as you may have to face:

  • Disfigurement
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished earning capacity and loss of wages
  • Lasting or life-long disabilities
  • Reduced quality of life.

Compensation for catastrophic injuries should entirely reflect the physical and psychological impact of your injury. John M. O'Brien & Associates will help you file accident benefits claims or life-long disability claims to receive the compensation you need.

Personal Injury Claims - California State Laws

California tort laws are unique and this uniqueness is based on specific facts:

  • California has distinct evidence guidelines, known under the name of “California Evidence Distinctions”
  • California has a law (California Tort Claims Act) that allows tort suits against government entities. The plaintiff has to give a written notice of a claim 6 months in advance of filing the actual lawsuit
  • California includes a new hybrid type of liability called “reckless misconduct”. It is based on a willful disregard of the safety of others
  • The amounts of damages victims are entitled to receive are limited. For instance Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) places a cap on the amount of financial damages someone may obtain for medical injuries.

How to file an injury claim in California

  • Your lawyer will send the defendant a claim letter containing:
    • Details of your injury
    • The circumstances of the accident
    • Often it will include an expert’s opinion (your lawyer will suggest a relevant specialist).
  • The defendant will investigate and reply to the letter within a specific timeframe – (generally no more than three months)
  • In the reply, the defendant must either accept or deny liability for your injuries
  • If they accept liability, your lawyer will try to settle the case out of court
  • Your lawyer will estimate how much your case is worth and you’ll discuss with him about the amount you’re prepared to accept
  • If you want, you can make an “offer to settle” for a specific amount
  • In case the defendant agrees, the matter is then settled, without going to court
  • The respondent can also come with their own monetary offer, case in which you and your attorney will have to discuss again
  • If you cannot settle out of court, you can begin a legal action
  • When you take the case to court, your case will be passed to a judge
  • The court will announce you the date of your hearing, so that you and your attorney can move along with the last details regarding the case.

What to do After an Accident or Injury?

  • Write down everything you can (even take daily notes whenever you remember something) about:
    • The accident: how and when it happened, what you were doing, where you were going, the people you were with, weather conditions, witnesses
    • Your injuries (how they impact your daily life). Give specific details like all pains and discomfort, anxiety, lack of sleep. This information is also useful for the insurance company. Never ignore minor symptoms as they can develop into serious conditions in time. Every detail have to be mentioned so they become part of your medical records. This may become relevant evidence for your case
    • Economic, social or professional losses. Mention anything you were unable to do because of your injuries: lost working hours, meetings, job opportunities, classes, vacation, events, social or family gatherings
    • Conversations: date, time, the persons involved and the content of all conversations you had about your accident.
  • Return to the scene of the accident. Take notes or pictures. Locate and contact eyewitnesses who may help your case
  • Determine who might be responsible for your accident and write them notification letters stating your intention to file a claim
  • Start your claim early - within the first couple of weeks after the accident.

Who Is Liable?

The basic rule for determining legal responsibility (also called “liability) for an accident or injury is:

If an individual involved in an accident was less careful than another, the less careful party must pay for at least a part of the damages suffered by the more careful party. This rule is backed up by others, such as:

  • If a negligent person causes an accident while working for someone else, the employer can also be legally responsible for the accident
  • If more than one person caused the accident, anyone of the careless parties is responsible for compensating you fully for your injuries. The responsible parties will decide between themselves whether one should reimburse the others
  • If an accident happens on a poorly maintained or built property, the owner of the property may be liable
  • If the accident was caused by a defective product, both the manufacturer and the seller of the product can be held accountable
  • If you, as a victim, were careless and partly responsible for the accident, the percentage of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages that you can receive. This rule is called “comparative negligence”.

Documents you need to file a Personal Injury Claim

In order to file a personal injury claim, your attorney may request copies of:

  • Photographs of the accident location
  • Police report
  • Photographs of your injuries
  • Any other written reports from the scene of the accident
  • Documentation you have from any of the witnesses
  • Documentation related out-of-pocket expenses:
    • Painkillers
    • Prescription charges
    • Loss of earnings due to time off from work
    • The cost of any recommended medical treatment (including physiotherapy).

You will also need to have relevant receipts, pay slips and invoices for the defendant’s insurers in order to support your claim.

Documents needed if the other party denies responsibility for the accident

Depending on the type of accident that led to your injuries, you might also need:

  • Road traffic accident – photographs of road markings and a sketch plan with the position of the vehicles
  • Trip or slip – photographs of tripping hazard that caused your fall.

How much is a Personal Injury Case Worth?

In a personal injury case, the injured person (the plaintiff) receives money to cover the damages from the party who is found to be legally responsible for the accident (the defendant or their insurer).

A damage award can be:

  • Agreed upon, after a negotiated settlement took place
  • Ordered by a judge or jury, following a court trial.

Here are the main types of compensatory damages that you can expect:

  • Past and future costs related to medical treatment
  • Loss of enjoyment damages are claimed when your injuries keep you away from the recreational activities you used to enjoy
  • Loss of consortium damages relate to the impact the injuries have on the plaintiff's relationship with their spouse
  • Emotional distress damages
  • Loss of earning capacity measures the accident's impact on your present and future salary and wages
  • Repairs reimbursement or compensation for the fair market value of the property that was affected
  • Compensation for the pain and discomfort attributed to the accident
  • Punitive damages can be awarded on top of any other compensatory damages when the defendant's conduct is outrageously careless.

Actually, the real goal of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for his/her conduct.

Personal Injury Q&A

Q: Why would I need a skillful California lawyer for tort laws? See Answer


Q: What questions should I ask my personal injury lawyer related to costs? See Answer


Q: How can I document my injuries? See Answer


Q: What is “comparative negligence” and how can it affect my case? See Answer


Q: Can a plaintiff's certain actions (or inaction) diminish a damages award? See Answer

Contact John O'Brien - Personal Injury Lawyer

Mr. O'Brien is a leading personal injury lawyer offering services to individuals located in Sacramento County.

  • In 2008, he was inducted into the selective national organization, the American Board of Trial Advocates. This honor is only given to trial lawyers who have tried a minimum of 20 jury trials, and who are recognized as having demonstrated adherence to high ethical standards and excellence in the courtroom by their peers.
  • In 2009 he was given the Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association Advocate of the Year award based on a significant settlement he received for a client in a product liability case.
Millions of Dollars in Compensation for Personal Injures

No matter what your circumstances are, the staff at John M. O'Brien & Associates, P.C. is committed to providing high quality and committed representation in your case. Mr. O'Brien has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for people in Sacramento County who have suffered personal injuries and catastrophic injuries. The following are just a few notable verdicts and settlements:

  • Verdict exceeding $7,000,000 for a client who was rendered a quadriplegic in a shooting
  • $2,000,000 settlement (insurance policy limit) for a client severely injured at a work site in Modesto
  • $2,300,000 jury verdict against an obstetrician for the wrongful death of a 33 year old mother of three who died during childbirth
  • $1,400,000 jury verdict in federal court against Wal-Mart in a falling merchandise case

If you've sustained a traumatic injury, or if your loved one was killed as a result of negligence, Mr. O'Brien can help you. He will meet with you personally during a free case evaluation to determine a strategy best suited for your needs. Contact our office and schedule a free consultation with John O'Brien today!

Call John O'Brien 800.722.4176
or Ask John O'Brien a question
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Verdict and Settlements
  • Fall from a Defective Plank

    Result: $600,000     Read more
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    Result: $2,000,000     Read more