Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to filing personal injury lawsuits. Learning about the process before you pursue legal recourse allows you to make informed decisions. Knowing what to expect can lessen any fear and anxiety. It also provides some insight into how long it will take to resolve your case, how much compensation you may receive and so on.
With that in mind, here are 10 things you should know prior to filing a personal injury lawsuit in California.
- Always seek medical attention– This is one of the most important, if not the most important, step to take after any accident that may result in a personal injury claim. First, it is critical for your wellbeing, even if you do not believe you are badly hurt. Secondly, it bolsters your credibility. Finally, the medical records serve as valuable proof of your injury or injuries.
- Find an experienced personal injury lawyer – Yes, you can sue the person responsible for your injuries without help from a lawyer. However, the likelihood of success is much greater with a qualified personal injury attorney on your side. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer also allows you to concentrate on your recovery following a serious accident.
- Your lawyer investigates the circumstances of your case – To form an effective strategy your lawyer must know everything about the circumstances of your case. Be prepared to provide detailed information on the intake form and in a follow-up interview with your lawyer. In addition to interviewing you, your lawyer will review relevant records to see if you have a viable claim. This usually takes a while.
- The extent of your injury and recuperation determines what happens next – Even if you have a valid case, your lawyer won’t necessarily make an immediate demand or begin negotiations with the opposing party. In fact it could take weeks, months or even longer before this happens. This is because most lawyers hold off on making any demands until you are at the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which you’ve completed all necessary medical treatment and recuperated as fully as possible. This is also the point at which your attorney can determine how much your claim is worth.
- Most personal injury cases are resolved without litigation – Once your claim is valued, settlement talks may begin in earnest. Most cases are resolved through negotiations between the relevant parties. On the other hand, if the talks collapse or the opposing parties are too far apart, the case proceeds to litigation.
- Litigation begins when your lawyer files the lawsuit – There is a strict deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit called the statute of limitations. Filing of the lawsuit, or complaint, triggers the actual litigation. From that point, it can take a year or more for a personal injury lawsuit to get to trial.
- The discovery phase of litigation levels the playing field – A pre-trial process called discovery gives each side insight into the other’s legal arguments and defenses. This opportunity to request and exchange information is designed to ensure neither side has an unfair advantage at trial. This process can take at least six months to a year, depending on applicable deadlines and the intricacies of the case.
- Lawyers will usually make a last-ditch effort to avoid a trial – Upon conclusion of the discovery phase, lawyers for both sides will usually make a last-ditch effort to resolve the matter prior to trial. These efforts include the resumption or continuation of negotiations.
- Mediation may be warranted – If the negotiations directly between the two lawyers are unsuccessful, the attorneys and their clients may turn to mediation. This is a process in which an objective third party facilitates the discussion in an effort to help the parties reach a mutual agreement.
- If all else fails, the matter will go to trial – If mediation does not work, a trial is the next and final option. Keep in mind, however, that delays are often inevitable. So just because a trial is set to begin on a certain day does not necessarily mean it will begin then. Once it finally does get underway, the actual trial can last a day, a week, or longer.
Contact Los Angeles personal injury lawyers to learn more
Here at the Law Office of Parag L. Amin, our legal team always put our clients first. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident where someone else was at fault, contact us to learn how we can help get the compensation you deserve.