Accidents happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes data showing that Americans make a collective 38 million emergency department visits for “injuries” each year. A serious injury can dramatically disrupt a person’s life—leaving them with stacks of medical bills, missed paychecks, and an immense amount of pain and suffering. A personal injury allows victims in Stockton to pursue justice and financial compensation for their damage.
Do you start the personal injury claims process by filing a lawsuit? The answer is “no”—while a lawsuit may eventually be filed in your personal injury case, there are some important pre-litigation steps that need to come first. At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we provide comprehensive legal representation to victims and families. In this article, our Stockton personal injury lawyer highlights the key steps that come before a personal injury lawsuit is actually filed in California.
Step #1: Seek Immediate Medical Attention and Receive Follow-Up Care
Medical needs always take priority—especially after a serious accident. In the immediate aftermath of an incident, your health and safety come first. A severe injury requires a prompt trip to the nearest emergency medical center. Non-emergency injuries still need to be checked out by a doctor. Notably, some injuries—including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), back injuries, and internal injuries—may not present obvious immediate symptoms.
Seeing a doctor after an accident is essential from both a health perspective and a legal perspective. Here is a key thing to know about personal injury lawsuits in California: You will not be able to bring a successful claim unless you have medical records. In other words, your failure to see a doctor and get the right follow-up care can prevent you from recovering the full and fair financial compensation that you deserve.
Step #2: Consult With a Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer (Free Initial Consultation)
Personal injury cases are complicated. You do not have to take on the whole system alone. After ensuring your health is in check, consulting with a top-rated personal injury lawyer in Stockton should be your next step. You can set up a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney. An initial consultation will provide you an opportunity to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case and to determine what comes next.
A top Stockton, CA personal injury lawyer can provide guidance on the legal process—helping you understand your rights, investigating your accident to build a strong case, and advising you on the best course of action. Your Stockton, CA personal injury lawyer will also inform you of the potential damages you may be entitled to through the claims process, including things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other non-economic damages.
Step #3: Investigation of the Case—Establishing Liability and Damages
Once you have selected a Stockton personal injury to work with, they can hit the ground running and initiate a thorough investigation of your case. Among other things, the investigative process involves gathering all relevant evidence, such as accident reports, medical records, and witness statements. In California, personal injury liability is based on fault. A core goal of an investigation is to secure the evidence needed to prove liability.
At the same time, your Stockton personal injury attorney will work on establishing the extent of your damages. As stated previously, you may be able to recover for both economic damages, (medical bills, lost wages, etc) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc). To get the full and fair financial compensation that you deserve, your damages must be well-documented.
Step #4: Make Contact With the Counterparty (Settlement Demand)
Did you know that only a small share of personal injury cases in California actually go to trial? Settlement is far more common than verdicts—and it is not uncommon for personal injury cases to be settled before a lawsuit is ever final. Another key step before filing a lawsuit is to contact the at-fault party or their insurance company with a demand for settlement.
Your Stockton personal injury lawyer will draft a demand letter detailing the facts of the case, the injuries you suffered, and the compensation that you are seeking. The demand letter effectively. starts the negotiation process. Often, personal injury cases are settled out of court through these negotiations. Of course, if the counterparty refuses to offer a full and fair settlement, your Stockton, CA personal injury attorney can then proceed with filing a lawsuit
Step #5: File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If negotiations do not result in a full and fair settlement offer from the insurance company, your Stockton personal injury attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit to continue pursuing the compensation you deserve. Along with other things, the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit in California involves the drafting and filing a complaint with the appropriate California court. Most often, the court will be in the county where the accident occurred.
The complaint is a legal document that outlines the details of your case. It explains the circumstances of the accident, identifies the parties involved, states your legal claims (such as negligence), and specifies the damages you’re seeking. Once the complaint is filed, the lawsuit officially begins, and the defendant is served with a copy of the complaint.
After the complaint is served, the defendant usually has 30 days to respond with their answer, which outlines their defenses to your claims. Following this, both parties enter the discovery phase, where they exchange information and evidence related to the case. Discovery can involve interrogatories (written questions), depositions (oral questioning under oath), and requests for documents.
Get Help From Our Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer Today
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton personal injury attorneys have the legal and professional expertise that you can trust in a complex case. Were you or a family member seriously hurt in an accident? We are here to protect your rights. Call us now or contact us online to arrange your no cost, no fee consultation. With an office in Stockton, we fight for the rights of victims and families in San Joaquin County and throughout the wider surrounding communities.