When you are involved in an accident in Los Angeles County that results in a personal injury, you should consider retaining the help of an attorney to open a claim against an individual, a company, or an insurance company. In this scenario, when you are not a fault, holding the negligent party responsible is an important piece of recovering both economic and non-economic compensation. Understanding the how a personal injury lawsuit works before you get started can make the process seem much less daunting.
The personal injury process in California is relatively straightforward, but requires a specific order of events. The first step is to file a claim, which is typically with the liable party's insurance company. After the claim is filed, there will be the option to negotiate a settlement that includes a monetary offer. If a settlement isn't reached, the case can go into litigation (which means filing a lawsuit). Once this happens the case might either go to trial or be resolved with an alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It's important to keep in mind that there is set limit on how much time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit after the injuries you have sustained. This is commonly known as the statute of limitations.
Depending on the specific type of case you want to pursue, the statute of limitations will vary. In California, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is 2 years from the date the injury occurred. Therefore, by law, you must file a lawsuit against the parties you believe were responsible for the accident within that time period. If you don't file within the time period, it's highly unlikely the court will agree hear your case now or in the future. This also means you will no longer have the right to compensation. The laws on personal injury cases and the California statute of limitations are covered under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335.1. If you are seeking to file a personal injury lawsuit against a California state government agency, or a city or county, the statute of limitations is different. If your personal injury case is related to one of these government entities, you only have 6 months to file your claim. In addition, the procedural rules for these types of claims are different than from other cases. These rules are covered under California Government Code section 911.2.
If you or someone you love has sustained injuries as a result of someone else's carelessness or negligence, you need experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. When you are dealing with an injury and trying to focus on recovering, the prospect of holding another party responsible for their recklessness might seem overwhelming. We are here to help you with that piece. Our experienced team of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers can help streamline the lawsuit process for you and can help bring your case to a favorable resolution, via settlement, trial, or alternative dispute resolution.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
Prior to filing suit, the injured accident victim must first file a claim with the at-fault party's insurance company. The claim indicates that there was an injured party who is seeking damages from the liable party. This puts the insurance company on notice of a potential lawsuit. Once this occurs and the injured plaintiff stops treating, the plaintiff's attorney will request all medical records and bills from the plaintiff's various treating health care providers. See our related blog: How Insurance Companies Try to Limit Your Recovery.
Settlement Demand Packages
Once an injured plaintiff has finished treating, their personal injury attorney can assemble a settlement demand package and send it to the claims adjuster handling the case for the at-fault party's insurance company. The demand package will include a letter that makes an initial settlement demand. This package will also typically include copies of all pertinent medical bills, medical records, and lost wage documentation.
Once the insurance company's adjuster reviews the injured plaintiff's settlement demand package and assuming the insurance company accepts liability (or fault) for the accident, the adjuster will typically place a settlement offer on the table which is much less than what the case is actually worth. Following the initial offer, the plaintiff's personal injury attorney will make a counter-demand, and so forth, until an acceptable settlement is reached or the parties reach an impasse. The negotiation process can take as little as one week or as long as several months. Having a skilled Los Angeles personal injury attorney to work through the settlement negotiation is crucial. This will help the plaintiff to receive a beneficial outcome on their claim.
Filing Suit and Litigating a Personal Injury Case
If the insurance company and the injured plaintiff cannot agree on an acceptable settlement, the case will be litigated through the court system. The litigation process begins by filing a lawsuit with the court. The case will then proceed through the California court system. However, just because a lawsuit is filed does not necessarily mean that the case will go to trial. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of personal injury cases are resolved via settlement at some point along the line.
California Personal Injury Jury Trials
Personal injury jury trials can be long and tedious. This type of trial typically consists of the following components:
- Voir dire
- Opening Statements
- Plaintiff's case-in-chief
- Defendant's case-in-chief
- Jury Instructions
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Deliberations
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help you decide whether you should settle your case, pursue alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, or risk going to trial.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Case
When you or someone you care about has been in an accident, you want to work with an experienced legal team who has a deep understanding of the personal injury process. The knowledgeable and skilled Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Injury Justice Law Firm LLP, can help you through the personal injury process and can assist you with filing suit and litigating your case. To schedule a free case evaluation with our personal injury law firm, call our office at 310-734-7974 today.