Were you injured in an accident in Stockton? The CDC reports that 38 million people seek emergency medical care for injuries nationwide each year. If your accident was caused by the carelessness or recklessness of any other party, you have the right to bring a legal claim to seek compensation for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In California, personal injury liability is based on fault. A comprehensive investigation is an absolute must. At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we stand ready to investigate your accident—gathering the evidence you need to prove fault. In this article, our Stockton personal injury lawyer provides an in-depth overview of what an investigation in a personal injury case actually entails.
Why It Matters: California is a Fault-Based Personal Injury State
As a starting point, it is important to understand why an investigation matters so much in a personal injury case in Stockton. Personal injury claims largely fall under state law. California operates under the “fault” or “tort” system for personal injury claims. Here is an overview:
- The party found to be at fault for causing the accident is typically responsible for compensating the injured party for their damages. In most cases, fault for a personal injury claim is based on the legal concept of negligence. Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care.
In a fault-based state like California, establishing liability is a crucial step in the personal injury claims process. The determination can have significant financial implications. As such, an extensive investigation is often required to ascertain who was responsible for the accident.
The Initial Investigation: Document the Scene of the Accident
A proper investigation in a personal injury claim is one that starts without any delay. Indeed, the immediate aftermath of an accident is critical for gathering evidence that may prove invaluable later on. Here is a list of evidence that typically needs to be gathered to build a personal injury claim:
- Photographs: Capturing images of the accident scene, the positioning of the vehicles involved, and any visible injuries can provide crucial evidence.
- Witness Statements: Collecting testimonies from individuals who saw the incident can offer insights into how the accident occurred.
- Police Reports: If law enforcement was called to the scene, they might provide a report detailing their observations and initial findings.
- Weather and Traffic Conditions: Documenting the weather, time of day, and any peculiarities in traffic can shed light on contributing factors.
- Surveillance Footage: Checking for nearby cameras, such as those at traffic intersections or business premises, might yield footage of the incident.
More Comprehensive Investigation: Discovery
The immediate investigation of an accident in Stockton is essential. It is a vital step. That being said, the initial investigation is often not the entire scope of the investigation. The discovery process is also part of many personal injury claims in California. Broadly explained, discovery is a formal process in a lawsuit where both sides exchange information relevant to the case. In the context of personal injury claims, it allows both the plaintiff (the injured party) and the defendant (the party being accused of negligence) to build their cases based on evidence. Discovery may include:
- Interrogatories: These are written questions one party sends to the other, which must be answered under oath.
- Depositions: Oral testimonies given under oath where attorneys from both sides can ask questions. Transcripts of these sessions are created for later use.
- Requests for Production: Asking the other side to produce specific documents, like medical records or accident reports.
- Requests for Admission: Asking the other side to admit or deny certain facts to streamline the issues in the case.
How can information obtained during discovery actually make a difference when it comes to proving liability in a personal injury claim in California? Here is a hypothetical example: Imagine that you were involved in a crash with a semi-truck on Interstate-5 (I-5) in Stockton. During discovery, the trucking company is forced to turn over inspection records. Those records show that the truck’s brakes were not properly inspected. As you were rear-ended in this example, that lack of a proper inspection of the truck’s brakes could be evidence of negligence on the part of the trucking companies. This evidence—which trucking companies will not give you on their own and often needs to be obtained through discovery—can make a huge difference in a personal injury claim.
Documentation Of Damages (Medical Bills, Lost Wages, Pain and Suffering, etc.)
Bringing a successful personal injury claim in California is about a lot more than proving liability. You also need to establish the scope of your damages. Injured victims in Stockton can seek compensation for economic losses and non-economic losses—but only to the extent that they can prove their damages. Your damages must be carefully documented. This is an essential part of the investigation itself. Some notable examples of damages include:
- Property Damage: If personal property like a car or bike was damaged in the accident, its repair or replacement costs can be claimed.
- Medical Bills: This encompasses all medical expenses from immediate treatment to ongoing care, including surgeries, prescriptions, and therapy. You may be entitled compensation for future medical needs.
- Lost Wages: If the injured party misses work due to their injuries, they may seek compensation for the wages they would have earned during that period. Compensation may also be available for long-term diminished earning power.
- Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical pain and emotional distress experienced by the victim, which can be more subjective and might require expert testimonies.
Get Help From Our Personal Injury Attorney in Stockton, California
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton personal injury lawyer is a skilled, reliable, and devoted advocate for the victims and families who need help the most. We are proactive, detail-driven in our investigations. Contact us right away to set up your free, no commitment initial case review. With a legal office in Stockton, our firm takes on personal injury claims all across the wider region.