Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

Being in an accident that someone else causes can be devastating — physically, emotionally, and financially. Unfortunately, these types of incidents occur all too often in California as a result of negligence. 

If you’ve suffered an injury from this type of accident, one of the most important things you can do is to turn to a Sacramento personal injury attorney. Take a closer look at how personal injury law works in California and why consulting a seasoned attorney from Sette Law is crucial to obtaining the compensation and justice you deserve. 

An elderly man holding his neck while in pain.

How California Law Defines Personal Injury 

In California, personal injury refers to any physical, psychological, or emotional injury that another party causes. There are many personal injury case types, but any case generally involves the injured plaintiff suing a business or person — the defendant — for intentionally or accidentally causing the plaintiff to suffer an injury. 

Negligence plays a key role in personal injury law in California and throughout the country. Negligence refers to someone failing to act with the level of care that a reasonable individual would employ in the exact situation. To prove negligence, one of the first things that has to be established is a duty of care. 

A duty of care refers to the reasonable legal obligation everyone has toward others in different situations. If a person acts in a way that fails to fulfill this duty and leads to harm, they’ve breached their duty of care.

When this breach of duty results in injuries, then you have causation, which is another requisite for filing a personal injury claim. This means that it’s not enough to show that the defendant acted negligently. You have to prove that their negligence directly led to your injuries. 

You must also prove that it’s possible to compensate you for the losses you’ve sustained. In other words, you have to be able to prove that the injuries and losses are significant enough to earn you financial compensation.

Another crucial thing to understand is that you can claim damages if you file a personal injury lawsuit. This is the legal term for financial compensation that a plaintiff seeks to cover their various losses. 

Common Ways Personal Injuries Occur

Personal injuries can occur as a result of many types of accidents. Here are some of the most common ones in Sacramento County, CA:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Traffic accidents are a highly prevalent type of personal injury accident in California. Every year, approximately 4,285 die in the state due to motor vehicle accidents, and countless more suffer serious injuries. 

Car Accidents

Car accidents can occur for a number of reasons, though distracted driving is by far the most common in the state and the country. Each year in the United States, 424,000 people suffer injuries in crashes that distracted drivers cause. Anyone who takes their eyes off the road for even a second can cause a serious accident. 

Driving under the influence is another concern in California. Although the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is under 0.08% throughout the country, having just one drink is enough to affect reflexes and coordination. Alcohol and drugs make a driver more distracted and unable to react appropriately to hazards on the road.

Other common causes of car accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Reckless driving

In some cases, the driver is not at fault. This can occur if the road conditions are subpar or the car they were driving had design or manufacturing errors. 

Semi-Truck Accidents

Any traffic accident can lead to severe consequences, but the larger the vehicles involved, the worse the outcome can be. That’s certainly the case when semi-trucks cause an accident.

Semi-trucks are made up of two parts: the trailer, which carries cargo, and the tractor, which contains the engine. They can also be called 18-wheelers. 

Perhaps the most common cause of semi-truck accidents is driver fatigue. Long driving hours, erratic schedules, and having to meet strict deadlines can all play a role in leading the person behind the wheel to feel tired. A fatigued driver can’t react quickly to changes on the road and may even fall asleep at the wheel. 

Improper cargo loading is another serious problem with these kinds of trucks. If the cargo is not loaded correctly, it can shift during transport, causing a weight imbalance that can make the semi-truck difficult to control. It can even tip over or cause the truck to swerve into other lanes.

Poor vehicle maintenance is another cause of semi-truck accidents. In this scenario, the truck drivers wouldn’t be liable themselves, but the company in charge of providing the maintenance would be.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable on the road because they don’t offer riders the same protection as cars. 

Much of the time, other vehicles are to blame for motorcycle accidents. Cars tend not to notice motorcycles or might even block their way, making accidents much more likely to occur. Cars can also follow too closely or not offer the necessary space that they would to another vehicle, leading to rear-end collisions and other serious accidents. 

Road conditions are another issue. Uneven pavement or similar problems that wouldn’t affect a car very much can cause a motorcycle driver to lose control of their bike. 

Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries typically refer to those that affect the brain, spinal cord, or neck. They can also include loss of limbs, as well as severe burns and other forms of disfigurement. 

Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs because of a blow or jolt to the head. This blow involves a force strong enough to move the brain within the skull. An object that goes through the brain, like a piece of skull or bullet, can also cause a TBI. 

Spine and Neck Injuries

A catastrophic spine injury involves the spinal cord or any of its components, like the nerves, vertebrae, and discs. These injuries can result in paralysis and a host of other long-term issues. 

A catastrophic neck injury refers to a structural distortion of the cervical column that occurs because of damage or the potential of damage to the spinal cord. 

Bicycle Accidents

Motorists are a leading cause of bicycle accidents. Car drivers often don’t know the laws regarding lane sharing, so they may try to force cyclists off the road, potentially causing severe accidents. 

Road conditions and visibility issues are also important concerns for bicyclists. As with motorcycles, uneven pavement, and other road problems can easily lead cyclists to lose control of their bikes. 

In areas with insufficient lights or lanes that are not marked as they should be, cars and other vehicles can easily miss seeing cyclists, resulting in collisions.

Premises Liability Cases

Premise liability cases involve someone getting hurt while on another person’s property. The injuries often occur because of the owner’s negligence. 

Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Some of the most common types of premise liability claims are slip-and-fall accidents. These accidents happen due to a number of dangerous conditions, including:

  • Narrow stairs
  • Torn carpeting
  • Poor lighting
  • Changes in flooring
  • Broken or cracked flooring
  • Wet floors

These accidents can also involve unmarked ground obstructions that aren’t immediately visible, potholes, and even ice or snow. 

Dog Bites

Under California’s strict liability law, dog owners are liable if their dog bites someone else. As long as the person is legally on the property and isn’t provoking the animal, it doesn’t matter if the dog hasn’t bitten anyone before — the owner is still liable. 

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death also falls under personal injury law. Under California law, the family members or the estate of a person who died because of an accident someone else caused can sue for damages. Whether the act was negligent, intentional, or reckless, these claims are valid. 

A settlement from a wrongful death claim can help with funeral and burial costs, as well as provide compensation for pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Often, you can also claim the future wages that your loved one would have made. Punitive damages aren’t available in wrongful death claims in California. 

What To Do After Suffering a Personal Injury

The aftermath of an accident that leads to a personal injury can be chaotic and confusing, making it difficult to know what steps to take. Generally, you will want to take these key steps:

Seek Medical Attention

Seeking medical attention is the first thing you should do after any kind of accident. Many times, the adrenaline surge you experience after suffering an injury doesn’t allow you to feel pain or notice that you were hurt at all. By having a medical professional check you for injuries, you can avoid delayed treatment. 

Getting medical attention also serves to leave a record of your injuries. This is crucial for your claim. 

Report the Incident

You need to let the police know that the accident occurred, even if you believe it’s minor. Often, accidents that appear simple can be highly complex, and having an accident report can make a world of difference when you file a claim. 

Document the Scene and Incident

If you’re well enough to do so after the accident, take plenty of photos and videos of the scene, as well as of your injuries. For example, if there are skid marks, you need to capture them as evidence. 

Get contact information from any witnesses, along with their statements. This ensures that you get a fresh account immediately after. Your lawyer will also want to have this information so they can reach out to witnesses as the claim progresses.  

Additionally, it can help to write down your own account of what happened with as many details as you can remember. If you’re injured and need to go to the hospital to get treatment, have someone else document the scene for you — you may even want to ask a bystander to do it. 

Be Careful of What You Say and to Whom

When speaking with police officers or the other party, you need to be very careful and not admit to being at fault. Even if you were partly responsible, you never want to state this.

Similarly, you should never speak to the other party’s insurance company. That’s something that you want to leave to your lawyer. When speaking to your own insurance company about a car accident, make sure to give an accurate account without admitting or implying you were at fault.

You also should avoid posting anything about the accident on social media. It’s common for insurance companies to go searching through these sites to try to catch plaintiffs in a lie. 

Consult With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

One of the most important steps you need to take after being in an accident and suffering a personal injury is to reach out to an attorney. A lawyer can guide you through the entire process. Don’t wait to consult with a personal injury lawyer

Types of Damages That Can Be Pursued in Personal Injury Cases

Suffering an injury can mean having to deal with pain, trauma, and all manner of expenses. You can pursue economic and non-economic damages to help you manage the aftermath of the accident. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover losses that are quantifiable because they have objective costs. You have bills that you can show for these losses.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses refer to the compensation you can receive to pay for the treatment you’ve received or will receive in the future. They can cover:

  • Hospital bills
  • Therapy sessions
  • Medications
  • Mobility devices
  • Rehabilitation
  • Changes to home or vehicle to accommodate disabilities

It’s important to know that if the injuries were severe enough to require long-term care or result in permanent disability, you may also be able to get compensation for future medical bills. 

Lost Wages and Future Earning Capacity

Getting treatment for injuries can mean being unable to work, resulting in lost income. Claiming lost wages can allow you to recover that income, whether from a paycheck, commissions, or bonuses. You may also have had to use sick or vacation days, and you can claim these values, too. 

Often, injuries can make it impossible to return to your previous occupation. They might require that you work fewer hours. If that’s the case, you could also claim compensation for future earning capacity. 

Property Damage or Loss

You can claim these losses if the accident resulted in property damage, which often happens in traffic accidents. If your car was totaled, for example, you could seek compensation for the price of the car as it was before the accident. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more complex because they don’t come with a set price tag. To calculate these damages, insurers and your lawyer can use a variety of methods, including the per diem method and the multiplier method. 

A number of factors can influence the amount of non-economic damages you receive, including your age, the severity of the injuries you’ve suffered, and the length of time it’ll take for you to recover. 

Pain and Suffering

Injuries don’t just leave you with medical bills. They also leave you dealing with physical and emotional distress. Although it’s more difficult to quantify this distress, pain and suffering damages strive to compensate you for what you’ve endured. 

Loss of Enjoyment 

Injuries and trauma can keep you from living your life the way that you did before the accident. This can mean battling depression and other mental health conditions. In some instances, it can mean dealing with a disability. 

Your quality of life could degrade when you’re dealing with injuries and psychological trauma. Fortunately, California law allows for seeking damages to cover loss of enjoyment. 

Loss of Consortium

If a loved one died because of the accident or they suffered injuries so severe it left them unable to provide the affection and support you’re used to, you can claim loss of consortium. 

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You

A personal injury lawyer is vital when you need to file a claim after an accident that left you with injuries. Here is how an attorney can support you throughout your case:

Handle All Details of the Case While You Focus on Recovery

When you hire a personal injury lawyer, they will be able to take the stress of the claim off your hands. They can handle all of the details and communicate with the necessary parties. This allows you to focus on your healing. 

Gather Evidence and Investigate the Incident

A personal injury lawyer can gather the evidence that can make a significant difference in your claim. Your lawyer can also investigate the circumstances of your accident and speak with expert witnesses who can provide crucial testimony.

Prove Liability and Negligence

Proving both liability and negligence is difficult and requires an in-depth understanding of California law. The last thing you want to worry about as you deal with injuries and emotional trauma is how to meet the various requirements and deadlines to prove your claim. A personal injury attorney is equipped to take on these requirements.

Accurately Determine Your Damages

You may not know what damages you can claim after an accident. This could mean that you end up not getting everything you deserve. Your lawyer will be able to accurately calculate the compensation you are entitled to, including non-economic damages, which can be complicated to determine. 

Negotiate a Settlement on Your Behalf

Negotiating with insurance companies can be challenging. If you try to do so alone, you might unintentionally accept a lower offer than you could have received. Your lawyer will fight for your rights. On average, people who have a lawyer representing them can get higher settlements than those who don’t. 

Represent You in Court

If you can’t reach a settlement with the other party, your personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit and take your case to trial. You never want to walk into court without a lawyer on your side. 

How Much Does a Personal Injury Attorney Cost?

At Sette Law, we don’t charge any upfront fees because we work on a contingency fee basis. This means we won’t receive any payment unless we successfully recover damages for you. We even provide free consultations

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in California?

The California statute of limitations for personal injury cases is usually two years. In instances when you may not have realized an injury took place right away, you have one year from the moment you discover the injury to file your claim. 

Keep in mind that each case is unique, and there can be many factors that influence how much time you have. 

Get the Help You Need After Suffering an Injury

A personal injury attorney holding a hand under the scales of justice as it rests on top of a law book.

When you experience an accident that someone else caused and suffer injuries as a result, you have the right to get compensation for your harm and losses. Turning to a skilled personal injury attorney can give you your best chance of obtaining the compensation you need to move forward.

If you have been injured, let Sette Law help you recover the damages you deserve. With over 26 years of experience, Sette Law is here to fight for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


California Civil Code §1714(a).
California Civil Code § 3342.
California Code of Civil Procedure §377.60.
California Safety Quick Stats. (2021).
Distracted driving. (2019).
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). (2023).