As top personal injury and car accident lawyers in Orange County, we specialize in protecting the rights of injury victims across Southern California. Need help now? Reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate attorneys. 

Unless an accident has forced you to pursue legal action in the past, there’s a good chance you’re not aware of all your legal rights. Rest assured, you’re not alone in this; the majority of people don’t understand all of their options. 

The reality is that the law is complex—so complex that attorneys can spend a lifetime practicing it and still never learn everything there is to know. The most important thing to understand after an accident is that you have legal recourse. However, your eligibility to pursue certain actions will depend on the specifics of your situation.

When Do I Have the Right to Sue?

As you can imagine, we field many questions from potential clients who want to explore their legal rights. One of the most common questions we hear is, “Do you have to be injured to sue?” The short answer is it depends on the type of lawsuit. 

If you’re facing serious losses after an accident caused by someone else, you may be able to sue for compensation, but keep this in mind: There are many different types of lawsuits, each meant to serve a specific purpose. Keep reading to learn more about the types of lawsuits, how they’re used, and whether you’re eligible to sue for damages. 

At Case Barnett Law, we know that recovering from an accident is hard enough—you shouldn’t have to plan out your legal strategy, too. Luckily, when you partner with our experienced Costa Mesa Personal injury attorney, you won’t have to. Call us at (949) 409-0055 to schedule a free case evaluation. 

person injured in California hospital

Personal Injury Lawsuits 

When a person suffers serious injuries in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Personal injury law encompasses a wide array of situations, from car wrecks to slip-and-fall accidents to defective product mishaps and much, much more. As the name suggests, this type of lawsuit requires an injury to have occurred; however, the injured party doesn’t necessarily have to be the one filing the claim. 

Child Injury Lawsuits

As a parent, you understand that you’re responsible for your child’s safety. When you send them to school or daycare, you expect that their teachers and caregivers will offer the same protection. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. 

Kids get hurt—that’s just part of life. However, a scraped knee is different from a serious injury caused by a caregiver’s negligence. Suppose your six-year-old was left on the playground unsupervised and, as children do, decided to test their climbing skills in a tree, only to fall and suffer serious injuries.

After months of medical treatment, you’re left with enormous debt. Although you didn’t personally suffer injuries, you may be able to file a child injury lawsuit on their behalf to recoup your financial losses. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death lawsuits are another example of lawsuits that can be filed by a non-injured party. In these cases, the victims paid the ultimate price for someone’s negligence, sustaining not only serious injuries but also death. However, they’re not the only ones who suffer. 

In addition to tremendous emotional pain, the family of the deceased may face financial hardships and other struggles in the absence of their loved one. This is especially true if the victim was also the primary breadwinner. In these cases, a family member may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit to pursue compensation for some of their many losses. 

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Although the vast majority of personal injury cases involve physical injuries, it’s important to remember that some of the most devastating injuries are psychological. That’s why California law allows some victims to recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress. In order to claim these damages, you must be one of the following: 

  • A direct victim of someone’s wrongful act
  • A bystander who witnessed an injury to a close relative

Like in other personal injury lawsuits, recoverable damages can include both economic and non-economic losses. To win a direct victim claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligent conduct caused them serious emotional stress. Serious emotional distress, legally speaking, is defined as stress that a reasonable person would be unable to cope with. 

To prove negligent infliction of emotional distress through a bystander claim, the plaintiff must show they were closely related to the victim, as well as the following: 

  • The defendant's negligence caused injury or death to the victim
  • The plaintiff was present when the injury occurred and knew the victim was being injured
  • Being present for the event caused severe emotional distress that goes beyond what a disinterested witness would have experienced

Wondering whether you qualify for this type of claim? Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to explore your eligibility. 

Property Damage Claims

If an accident resulted in damage to your property but not to your person, you may be feeling out of luck. However, you still have legal options, including the right to file a property damage claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company or your own. If they refuse to offer you a fair settlement, you may need to contact a property damage lawyer. 

Although you can file a property damage claim for any insured property, including boats, motor vehicles, and collector’s items, property damage lawyers typically handle cases involving a home or business. However, most property damage claims are settled without lawsuits. 

Do You Have to Be Injured to Sue? Ask One of Our Legal Experts

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be suffering because of someone else’s negligent actions. The good news is that regardless of what type of injuries you suffered, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your losses. The best way to find out is by speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law