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San Diego personal injury attorney - gavel and stethoscopeFrom a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney: About Personal Injury Law

Personal injury law involves a diverse variety of factual situations under many different sets of circumstances. The one common thread among all such cases is that monetary recovery is sought by a San Diego personal injury attorney for the damage or harm caused to a person by the negligence of another. This right to recover damages is based on a long-standing legal principle that an innocent victim should not have to bear the burden of a loss caused by the misconduct of another.


Determining fault in a personal injury case requires proving the defendant was negligent, which is legally established by the proof of four distinct elements:

• The defendant had a duty of care to avoid causing harm to the other person
• The defendant failed to meet that duty, either by some specific action or failure to act
• The victim was injured
• The defendant’s failure to meet the duty of care was the cause of the victim’s injuries

The manner in which a San Diego personal injury attorney goes about establishing these elements depends not only on the individual facts of the case but also on the type of personal injury case.

The Duty of a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney

The duty one person owes another depends largely on the nature of the relationship between them. However, even where the two have never met, a San Diego personal injury lawyer can explain that the law may imply a standard of care. For example, a motorist has a legal duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner at all times, taking into consideration such variables as traffic, weather and road conditions. Traffic laws have been established to regulate and promote roadway safety and negligence may be established if, for instance, a driver’s passing a red light caused an injury crash.

Different Level of Duties

An individual’s purpose in doing a specific act can alter the duty required of another. As an example, a San Diego personal injury attorney reports that a person who owns or controls real property may owe a different duty to a trespasser, as opposed to an invited guest.


No matter the nature of the duty owed, the concept of what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances is a primary measuring stick. Reasonableness is determined by the facts; therefore, what is reasonable for a driver on a roadway? What steps does a property owner need to take to ensure individuals who enter are safe? The answers are not absolute but depend heavily on the facts.


A causal link must be established by a San Diego personal injury attorney between the breach of duty and the injury. That failure to exercise proper care need not be the only causal link; in many instances there is in fact more than one cause, and sometimes, the victim may be held partially responsible for their own injuries. This is not necessarily a bar to recovery.

Auto Accidents

Crashes on southern California roads are an everyday occurrence and increasing in frequency with more and more drivers and vehicles. Thankfully, some are minor fender benders with little property damage and no physical injuries. However, a San Diego personal injury lawyer cautions that any vehicle crash can result in injury and perhaps more importantly, some injuries are not readily apparent. Considered latent injuries that may take days or weeks to fully develop, whiplash and brain damage are particularly insidious.

This highlights the importance of not accepting an insurance company’s offer to settle an auto accident case too soon. A San Diego personal injury attorney understands the necessity to properly diagnose the extent of injuries in each case and receive all the treatment required to make the maximum medical recovery possible. Insurance adjusters are notorious for pushing for a quick settlement for a low dollar amount. That is almost never in the injured party’s best interest.

Construction Accidents

Without question, construction sites are among the most dangerous places to work. The multitude of activities that are occurring simultaneously and the nature of working with and around heavy equipment and machinery create an atmosphere that mandates strict compliance with safety rules and regulations. Despite federal guidelines established by OSHA and additional state protections, statistically, as many as one in ten construction workers are injured on the job each year, and many of these injuries are permanent in nature.

One of the more difficult aspects of a construction accident is unraveling the facts; what actually happened, and who was responsible? Often, there will be more than one party who is found to be at least partially at fault.

Slip and Falls

In actuality, this type of accident involves two different actions; slip and fall or trip and fall. Slips occur when a person falls due to some foreign substance on the floor surface, such as a wet spot on a grocery store floor. A trip results when the floor surface is elevated or is otherwise in disrepair. In either case, the entity that owned or was in control of the property had a duty to maintain the property so as to avoid an injury fall.

Such cases are very much fact-specific, hinging, for instance, on such questions as when the spill occurred, was the owner informed of the spill and should the owner have been aware of the spill. The reasonableness of how the parties acted will be closely evaluated.

Product Liability

Product liability is unique in the personal injury arena in that it is not required for an injured plaintiff to allege negligence on the part of the manufacturer. The very fact that the product was placed in the stream of commerce failed to operate as intended and caused harm to a person is sufficient to bring a product liability claim. Other than manufacturers, distributers, retailers and others involved in disseminating the product can be liable.

Contact a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer for Legal Advice

Personal injury law requires a rare breed of legal professional; one who is aggressive, knowledgeable in many areas and has compassion for their client. If you or a loved has been injured through the negligence of another, call George C. Heppner, a San Diego personal injury attorney, at (619) 235-4300.