Were you seriously hurt in an accident in Central California? If so, you may be entitled to hold the at-fault party legally liable for your damages. Unfortunately, recovering full and fair financial support after an accident can be challenging for many people. The personal injury claims process is notoriously complex—it could, but does not always, end in a lawsuit. In this article, our Stockton personal injury attorneys highlight eight key things to know about navigating a personal injury lawsuit in California.
Eight Key Steps to Navigating the Personal Injury Claims Process in California
- Medical Needs Come First: You Must See a Doctor to Bring a Claim
First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that your medical needs should always take precedence over anything else. Severe injuries require immediate emergency medical attention. A non-emergency injury should still be evaluated by a licensed physician as soon as possible after an accident. You will not be eligible to file a personal injury claim unless you have seen a doctor.
- Document Your Accident (Gather Relevant Evidence)
Another important step in the early stages of the personal injury claims process is documenting the accident. In California, personal injury claims are generally fault-based legal cases—meaning you will need to prove that the defendant was at fault for your accident in order to establish liability. The more evidence you have, the better position you will be in to prove fault.
- Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer as Early as Possible
You do not have to go up against defendants and/or a large insurance company all by yourself. You should consult with an experienced California personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a major accident. A lawyer can review your case, explain your rights, and guide you through whatever legal action is required to help you successfully navigate the claims process.
- A Demand Letter is an Effective Tool in a Personal Injury Claim
As a general rule, you will not start the personal injury claims process by filing a lawsuit. Instead, most claims are initiated by a demand letter. The Cornell Legal Information Institute defines a demand letter as a form of legal notification that requests action. A well-crafted demand letter can often start settlement negotiations. A demand letter should always be drafted by a lawyer.
- File a Lawsuit Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
If a demand letter and other out-of-court remedies are not sufficient to get a full and fair settlement in your personal injury case, it will be time to file a lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires. In California, most personal injury claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. Though, there are some exceptions.
- Initiate Discovery and Other Pre-Trial Proceedings
Once you file a lawsuit, pre-trial proceedings will begin. Among other things, this means that discovery will start. Discovery is an important pre-trial procedure during which parties can obtain evidence and information from each other. An experienced Stockton, CA personal injury lawyer will help you navigate discovery. Discovery is a crucial part of a well-prepared personal injury case.
- Be Ready for Additional Settlement Negotiations
Most often, a personal injury lawsuit is filed because the initial settlement negotiations failed to achieve a satisfactory result. However, that does not mean that settlement is out of the question. Quite the contrary, additional settlement negotiations occur in most personal injury claims. In fact, settlement negotiations can occur right up until the day of the trial and even after it starts.
- Personal Injury Trials are Relatively Uncommon—But You Need to Be Prepared
Only a small percentage of personal injury cases actually make it to the trial. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that a verdict is rendered in fewer than five percent of personal injury claims. That being said, you always need to be prepared for personal injury litigation. If your lawsuit does make it to court, it is imperative that you have a trial-tested personal injury attorney on your side.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton personal injury attorneys have secured more than $25 million in financial compensation for victims and their families. If you have any questions about navigating a personal injury lawsuit, we can help. Get in touch with us by phone at 209-267-4589 or contact us directly online to arrange your no-cost, no-obligation case review. We have law office locations throughout Central California, including in Stockton, Sacramento, Tracy, and Sutter Creek.