Following a serious accident, injured victims need financial support. You likely have medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. The California personal injury claims process provides victims with a path to hold the at-fault party legally responsible for their accident. Personal injury claims are complicated. Most people have a lot of questions. It is normal to feel confused and overwhelmed.
At the Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., we want to make sure that you have access to the information and resources needed to do what is best for you and your family. Here, our Inland Empire personal injury lawyer answers some of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury claims in California. If you have specific questions, please call us. We are happy to schedule a completely free consultation to meet with you and evaluate your potential case.
Yes. You should always see a licensed physician as soon as possible after a serious accident. Severe or life-threatening injuries require immediate emergency medical care. A non-emergency injury should also be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Getting medical attention is important for your own health, safety, and well-being. You need and deserve the proper medical treatment. Additionally, you must see a doctor to bring about a personal injury claim in California. Without medical records, you will not be in a position to recover compensation for your injuries.
The established statute of limitations for most California personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident. Simply put, this means that you typically have two years after an accident to file a lawsuit. If you do not file a personal injury lawsuit in time, your case will be dismissed. Of course, this does not mean you should wait to get started. Be proactive.
There are also some exceptions to California’s general two-year statute of limitations for personal injury. You could potentially have less time to start the claims process. As an example, if you have a personal injury claim against a government or government agency, the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA) requires you to submit a specific notice of your accident within six months. If you wait too long to hire an attorney, there may not be a reasonable amount of time for the attorney to submit an initial notice properly.
Negligence is the basis of liability in most personal injury claims in California. Simply described, negligence is the failure to exercise proper care. What constitutes a negligent act depends on many different factors. Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions notes that courts generally do not have a fixed standard for negligence that is any more precise than failure to act in a manner that a reasonably prudent person would act in under like circumstances.
California uses the comparative negligence standard to apportion liability for an accident. Each party to an accident is legally responsible for their level of blame. This is important because multiple parties may share the burden of fault for an accident. As an example, imagine that you were hurt in a car crash in Orange County, California. An investigation revealed that another driver was 90% liable for your injuries. However, you were also found to be 10% at fault for your own accident. Under California’s comparative negligence law, the other driver would be liable for 90% of your damages and you would be liable for the remaining 10%.
It depends. In California, personal injury damages are—with limited exceptions—designed to be purely compensatory in nature. In practice, this means that your compensation will be proportional to your actual damages. You can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Recovery may be available for:
In order to maximize your financial recovery after a serious accident, it is imperative that your damages are comprehensively documented. Even when liability is crystal clear, defendants and insurance companies try to limit the value of a personal injury claim by undervaluing a victim’s damages.
No—at least not without first consulting with an experienced California personal injury attorney. Insurance companies are primarily interested in their own bottom line. They want to ask questions to injured victims as soon as possible after a serious accident. In doing so, they are looking to find something that they can use to limit the value of a settlement or verdict. Protect yourself by dealing with defendants and insurance companies through a qualified and licensed personal injury lawyer.
It is possible. That being said, personal injury litigation is only required in a relatively small percentage of cases. Most personal injury claims are settled before a trial. Still, it is important to prepare your case as if there will be a trial. Only when the defense and the insurance company see that a claimant has a strong case will they truly take settlement negotiations seriously.
Yes. Most personal injury claims are handled on contingency. This means that most clients do not have to pay anything upfront or out-of-pocket. Our law firm offers free, no-commitment consultations to injured victims and their families. We will provide as much information as we can in response to your questions without charge.
At the Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., our Orange County personal injury lawyer is a relentless, aggressive advocate for justice. Call us today at (888) 883-6588 to set up your free, no-obligation initial consultation. With law offices in Santa Ana and Corona, we represent injured victims in Orange County and throughout the Inland Empire, including Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Riverside. and Jurupa Valley.