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Personal Injury

What is a Personal Injury?

A "personal injury" claim refers to the legal claim that arises when you suffer an injury due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of someone elseThe person who injured you must have had an obligation of due care directed toward you (i.e. the obligation of all motorists to drive their vehicles safely), and the harm you suffered must have been a foreseeable result of that person violating this obligation of due care.

Through a personal injury claim, an accident victim can recover compensation for their actual economic losses.  This would include such things as past medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and property damage.  In addition to economic losses, one can recover "general" damages, which are damages for the pain, suffering and mental anguish caused by the injury that was suffered.  In cases of extremely gross negligence or intentionally inflicted harm, a third category of damages is available called "punitive" damages.  Punitive damages are damages above and beyond the accident victim's actual losses that are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and to deter them from acting the same way again in the future.

      Table of Contents

  1. Types of Personal Injury Cases

  2. Common Injuries in Personal Injury Cases

  3. Compensation Available in Personal Injury Cases

  4. Common Defenses in Personal Injury Actions

  5. What Will Phillips & Associates Do In My Personal Injury Case?

  6. Who Will Actually Be Handling My Case?

  7. How Long Will My Case Take to Resolve?

  8. How Do I Know If I Have a Case

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Phillips & Associates has been representing accident victims in a wide range of personal injury actions since 1991.  We have extensive experience with the following types of personal injury actions and more:

  • Auto Accidents: Roughly 200,000 injury-causing car accidents occur in California every year.  Our firm has experience handling car accident cases of all kinds.

  • Slip-and-Falls: Lawsuits arising from slip-and-falls, also known as "premises liability" lawsuits, require the plaintiff to establish that they fell due to an unreasonably dangerous condition on the property.  Examples include slip and fall accidents due to wet floors, uneven walkways, or icy sidewalks.

  • Dog Bites: California has strict dog bite laws which hold the owner responsible for most bites occurring on private property or in public spaces.

  • Rideshare Accidents

  • Defective Products: when a product is designed or manufactured incorrectly and the defect causes injury, there may be grounds to sue.

  • Wrongful Death: The death of a loved one is always tragic,but even moreso when the death was the result of someone else's careless act.  Our law firm handles wrongful death cases with tremendous success.

  • Medical Malpractice: We trust that our doctors will always provide us with the best medical care in all situations. Unfortunately, doctors can and do make mistakes, and when this happens, the consequences are often devastating.  Medical negligence, or "malpractice" as it is often called, can result in death or catastrophic injury, resulting in enormous pain and medical bills.  The consequences of medical malpractice can be completely devastating financially. If you believe that you have suffered medical negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the medical providers who hurt you.

  • Pedestrian Accidents: Accidents caused by motor vehicles while pedestrians are walking or crossing the street, resulting in physical harm (often catastrophic) to the victim. E

  • Nursing Home Abuse: Physical harm or injuries caused by neglect or abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility resulting in physical harm to the resident. Examples include physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.

  • Motorcycle Accidents - According to data from the California Highway Patrol, there were 11,818 motorcycle accidents in the state in 2020, resulting in 471 fatalities and 9,117 injuries. That's an average of more than 32 motorcycle accidents per day, which is a sobering statistic.

  • Bicycle Accidents - Accidents caused by another driver's negligence or recklessness resulting in physical harm to the bicycle rider.

Don't see your type of case on this list?  That's okay!  Contact us for a free consultation if you've been injured and we will help to determine if you have a case to pursue.

Common Injuries in Personal Injury Cases

We have been representing personal injury victims since 1991, so believe us when we say that we have seen injuries of just about every kind.  That said, the following are the most common injuries we represent clients for:

  • Disc herniation & bulging discs

  • Shoulder sprains and ligament tears

  • Knee sprains and ligament tears

  • Whiplash

  • Broken/fractured bones

  • Concussions

  • Brain damage (often referred to as TBI)

  • Burns

  • Paralysis

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Dog bites & lacerations

Compensation Available in Personal Injury Cases

The compensation that a personal injury client may be entitled to receive will vary depending upon the nature of the client's injuries, their personal and professional circumstances, their medical bills, and their prognosis.  That said, the general categories of damages available in a personal injury action include the following:

  • Past medical expenses and reasonably probably future medical expenses: Compensation for medical expenses is limited to what was (or will be) directly related to the accident.

  • Past and future lost wages: A personal injury claimant may be entitled to compensation for wages they lost because they were forced to take time off work while healing from their injuries. To the extent the client will harm impairment in the future, they may also be entitled to compensation for loss of earning capacity.

  • Cost to modify one's residence: Catastrophically injured individuals may require residential modifications such as ramps and specially constructed showers which accommodate their new disabilities. The cost of consruction for these home modifications is a recovery form of damage.

  • Non-economic damages: This category of damages is generally the largest component of any personal injury recovery.  Non-economic damages are damages for the intangible pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and general loss of enjoyment of life that is commonly suffered following an accident.

  • Punitive damages: Punitive damages usually aren't recoverable in personal injury actions.  However, in cases of extraordinary "gross" negligence (i.e. DUI causing serious bodily injury) they may be recoverable.  Our law firm has succeeded in reconsider punitive damages for personal injury clients in the past, but never without an intense fight in litigation.  

  • Wrongful death: When the victim of a negligent act dies, their immediate family member can pursue claims for wrongful death.  In a wrongful death action, these family members can recover compensation for their emotional pain and suffering, a loss of companionship and financial support, and the funeral and burial expenses associated with the victim's death.

Patrick DiFilippo discusses what goes into determining the value of a personal injury case.


Common Defenses in Personal Injury Actions

When pursuing a personal injury action, there are a variety of potential defenses that the defendants can raise.  The following defenses are some of the most common:

Comparative Negligence

Perhaps the most common defense in a personal injury action is "comparative negligence."  This is simply the legal term for saying that the plaintiff was partially at fault for causing their own injury.  For instance, in an auto accident case where the Plaintiff was struck by the defendant who failed to yield while making a left-hand turn, the defendant might argue that the plaintiff was speeding and that, even if the defendant was negligent in failing to yield, the plaintiff's own negligence in driving at an excessive rate of speed also contributed to the accident.  When a plaintiff is found to be comparatively negligent in a personal injury action, the plaintiff's damages will be reduced by their share of fault for the accident.  So, for instance, if a jury finds that the plaintiff has one million dollars in damages but that they were 30% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff's award will be reduced down to $700,000.


All personal injury actions require the plaintiff to establish that they suffered harm as a direct consequence of the defendant's negligent conduct.  In law, we refer to this cause and effect connection as "causation."  A frequently asserted defense in personal injury actions is that even if the defendant was negligent, the defendant's negligence did not cause the plaintiff's injury and that the injury was pre-existing.  Often times, it is necessary to retain medical experts who review the plaintiff's medical records to determine whether and to what extent their physical condition changed as a result of the accident.

Statute of Limitations

Someone who suffers a personal injury does not have an indefinite period of time to take legal action.  Rather, the injured party must initiate a lawsuit within a certain pre-determined period after their cause of action accrues or else their right to sue is lost forever.  This timeframe within which a legal action must commence is called a "statute of limitations."

In most personal injury actions in California, there is a two year statute of limitations.  This means that, for example, if you are in a car accident on January 1, 2023, you must file your personal injury lawsuit by no later than January 2025.  In some cases, the statute of limitations will be shorter (for instance, in claims against the government or claims alleging medical malpractice), and in others it can even be longer.  But in any case, if the defendant can establish that the plaintiff did not initiate their lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired, the plaintiff's case may be dismissed.

What Will Phillips & Associates Do In My Personal Injury Case?

Hiring a personal injury lawyer early on in your case can have a huge impact on the eventual outcome.  Here is some of the actions our law firm usually takes to ensure that you obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries:

  • We will conduct an investigation into the facts of the accident.  This might involve interviewing witnesses and obtaining their sworn declarations, procuring video surveillance footage, or taking photographs of the scene of the accident to preserve certain critical evidence.

  • We will investigate what insurance coverage is available to ensure that your recovery is maximized.

  • We will help you establish the value of your case

  • We will negotiate with the insurance companies in an effort to resolve your case and ensure that any settlement agreement you enter into is fair

  • We will file a lawsuit on your behalf and ensure the statute of limitations is satisfied so that your right of recovery is preserved.

  • We will take your case to trial if the other side refuses to pay what's fair

  • We will continually update you regarding the status of your case and remain personally accessible so that any questions you have are promptly addressed. 

Who Will Actually Be Handling My Case?

Many people assume that the lawyer they see in an advertisement is the lawyer that will actually be handling their case if they hire that firm.  Unfortunately, this is often untrue.  An increasing number of personal injury law firms use non-lawyer para-professionals to handle most or all of their cases, without any input from an actual lawyer.  Others pawn cases off to inexperienced junior attorneys with minimal to no oversight.

Many of the personal injury law firms you see advertising on TV and radio use this "leveraged" business model. They are more concerned with the number of cases they can process than with providing personalized representation to each client.  At these firms, your case is simply a number.  Their goal is to maximize their profit at the expense of achieving the best outcome in any individual case.

At Phillips & Associates, you can trust that John and Patrick will be performing all of the legal work in your case. From your initial consultation to the resolution of your case, they will be your main points of contact and will keep you informed and updated on the progress of your case.

How Long Will Your Personal Injury Case Take to Resolve?

Managing partner Patrick DiFilippo explains some of the factors that can affect how long it may take your personal injury case to resolve.

How Do I Know If I Have a Case?

A number of factors go into determining whether you have a case. The basics are probably obvious: if you were injured, and it was not your fault, you likely have a personal injury action. But other factors also need to be considered. For instance, who are the parties and what insurance coverage or assets do they have that could be used to pay for a settlement or judgment in your case? What possible defenses to the allegations of negligence exist? Did the defendant's negligence directly result in your harm?All of these questions can be resolved through a free consultation with our law firm. When you contact our firm, you’ll be put in touch immediately with Patrick or Jon, who will be able to listen to the facts of your case, and determine whether there any causes of action to pursue against the at fault parties.  We handle all of our cases on a pure contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront costs whatsoever. And if there is no settlement reward, there is never any legal fee. Contact us today to determine what rights you may have arising from your accident.



Los Angeles Office
5850 Canoga Ave., Ste. 400
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

San Diego Office
990 Highland Dr. Ste. 212-D
Solana Beach, CA 92075

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Helping accident victims has been our business and passion for more than three decades. 

All consultations are FREE and there is never any charge for legal services unless something is recovered in your case.


Have you been the victim of an accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness or neglect?  You may feel overwhelmed and frightened, but the good news is that our legal system entitles victims to recover financial compensation for their damages, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and your general pain and suffering. 

Insurance companies and mega-corporations utilize vast pools of resources to stop victims from recovering the compensation they deserve.  They don’t intimidate or deter us.  As seasoned trial lawyers with more than 50 years of combined experience, John and Patrick know how to navigate the obstacles and red tape of injury claims to recover maximum compensation for their clients.

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