A personal injury claim is filed when someone is injured because of the negligence of another party. The claim enables the injured party to recover financial losses like medical bills and lost income. This process of filing a claim can feel overwhelming to those who do not understand it, so it can be useful to know what to expect during a personal injury lawsuit in Irvine.

What to Expect During a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Irvine?

Things to Consider Before You Begin a Personal Injury Case

There are several elements of your case and situation that you may want to review prior to beginning the process of a claim. These include:

  1. Check the statute of limitations. Personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of two years in California. Failing to file within this time period means that you lose the right to recover damages, and any filing would likely be dismissed. If you are filing an insurance claim or a claim against a governmental agency, this limit is usually much shorter. Certain types of personal injuries may also have unique statutes. Determine the statute of limitations on your unique type of claim, and ensure that you file before then.
  2. Ensure that you have the right to sue. Review the elements that you must prove to have the right to sue. This includes proving that the defendant caused you direct harm due to their actions and that you suffered damages as a result. This and other information is crucial to having a successful case.
  3. Determine where to file. You will file your claim with a specific court that has jurisdiction over the personal injury case. This may be where the injury occurred, where you live, or where the defendant lives. It’s important to be sure that you are filing in the correct location.
  4. Get in touch with an attorney. An attorney can help with the entire process of filing a personal injury claim, including determining all the prior information. They can also find the responsible party or parties and see if you should file an insurance claim before a civil claim.

Common Steps in the Process of Filing a Personal Injury Claim

A personal injury claim may follow unique steps in certain cases, but it can be helpful to know some of the common steps that most personal injury claims tend to follow.

  1. Demand Letter: This letter informs the defendant, who is at fault for your injuries, that you intend to collect compensation. It also provides information about the incident and their liability. This may begin negotiations, and it may even avoid the rest of the filing process. However, the party can also ignore the letter.
  2. Filing a Complaint and Summons: This is the official legal document filed with the court that states your intent to recover your damages. The complaint describes the actions of the defendant, evidence of your damages, and the compensation you are requesting. The summons gives this information to the defendant and informs them of the amount of time before they must respond.
  3. Defendant Response: The defendant can respond in several ways, including by filing a counterclaim, admitting and contesting certain elements of the complaint, or settling the case. If the defendant does not respond, the court will file a default judgment.
  4. The Discovery Process: If the defendant has responded to the complaint and summons, the case moves to the discovery phase, which is the exchange of information between parties. This enables both parties and their attorneys to understand the facts and evidence of the case prior to negotiations or a trial. In some cases, the discovery will end with a request for an immediate judgment on parts or all of the case.
  5. Negotiation Period: You and the defendant and your respective attorneys can negotiate the case outside of court. If you reach a fair settlement, you can drop the legal claim. The benefits of this include limiting the significant legal costs of a trial.
  6. Entering Litigation: If a fair settlement can’t be reached outside of court that covers your damages, then the case proceeds to trial. The judge or the jury will determine the outcome of the case after both sides present their arguments and evidence.

FAQs

Q: How Long Does a Personal Injury Claim Take in California?

A: A personal injury claim in California can take from several weeks to years. How long your case lasts can vary significantly based on many factors. If there is significant evidence supporting your case, the other party is more likely to settle, which can speed up the process. Cases that go to trial are likely to take much longer. For a more accurate and individualized estimate of how long your case will take, talk with a personal injury attorney about your specific situation.

Q: How Much Are Most Personal Injury Settlements?

A: How much most personal injury settlements are does not help you determine how much your personal injury settlement will be. The settlement you recover in a personal injury claim will rely on many factors unique to your situation, including:

  • The skill of your attorney
  • The significance of your injuries
  • How long your injuries are expected to impact your life
  • Your own percentage of liability in the accident
  • Your typical wages you would have earned while you recovered
  • The amount of evidence
  • The level of the at-fault party’s negligence

Q: What Are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases?

A: Some of the most common types of personal injury cases include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, such as car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and accidents between cars and pedestrians or cyclists
  • Medical malpractice and medical negligence claims
  • Product liability and dangerous product cases
  • Premises liability and slip and fall cases
  • Construction accidents involving employees and bystanders
  • Dog bites and animal attacks

Different types of personal injury claims result in different types of injuries, require different types of investigation, and may result in civil or insurance claims.

Q: What Percentage Do Most Personal Injury Lawyers Take in California?

A: The percentage that personal injury lawyers take from a personal injury settlement in California varies based on many factors. These include:

  • The attorney’s skill and experience in these cases
  • The unique fees of the firm and attorney
  • How complex your unique case is, such as if expert witnesses are needed
  • The severity of your injuries and, therefore, the damages that you can expect from the case
  • Whether the case goes to court or is settled in negotiation

Contact Easton & Easton, LLP

If you need legal support for a personal injury claim, contact Easton & Easton, LLP, today.