If you’ve been injured in a California car accident, dog bite, slip-and-fall, or any other type of accident, the role of putting the pieces of your life back together again might seem confusing and overwhelming. Likewise, considering how unpleasant, upsetting, and unexpected personal injuries can be, you may be tempted to delay any legal proceeding. Still, timing is essential, and the sooner you act, the better your chances will be of receiving compensation.
While different personal injury cases require different timelines and procedures to complete, there are several crucial milestones typical to most cases in California. Understanding the possible timeline of your case can help you to prepare for the journey ahead, as well as get you a jump-start on what it takes to bring a case to trial. We’ve broken down everything you need to know.
Timeline for A California Personal Injury Case
While each state has its own pre-trial procedures, it usually takes between a year and two years before your case goes to trial. While waiting for Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is crucial, remember that it’s essential to file a lawsuit within a specific period of time or else you may lose the right to make any claim.
For most claims in California, you have two years from the date you were injured to proceed to court and file a lawsuit against the involved parties. This rule is strictly applied and has few exceptions. The most prominent exceptions are claims in which the plaintiff is a minor or not mentally competent to assert their claim, or if the defendant fraudulently evaded service or left the country.
Steps to Take After Being Injured in an Accident
Although the details of your case may vary, if you’re ready to file a personal injury claim, the general process is usually the same:
Get Medical Treatment
The first and most crucial thing you ought to do after being injured in any kind of accident is to get medical care. Even if the injuries seem relatively minor, it’s important to seek medical treatment. Doing so will ensure you receive a speedy diagnosis and treatment as well as establish a link between the accident and your injuries.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Getting the right attorney when you’re injured makes all the difference in personal injury claims. An experienced and reputable lawyer will guide you through every step, ease your concerns, offer you good professional advice as well as advocate for your case with efficiency and aggressiveness.
Initial Investigation Stage
Once you secure a top-notch attorney, the next stage is for them to start digging into the specifics of the occurrence. Your lawyer will seek and assess official documents such as work records, reports given by the police, witness testimonies, and video surveillance when available. They will also likely contact medical professionals in order to back up your position in the case.
Demand Letter and Settlement Negotiations
Using the gathered information, your lawyer will then formulate a demand letter to the party at fault. The letter states the facts of the incident, the legal reason why their insured is to be blamed, and also a demand for compensation. This usually begins the negotiation process, as the insurance company for the at fault party will often counter with an offer of its own.
Filing A Lawsuit
If the insurance carrier fails to reach an agreement on your insurance claim, your attorney may file a lawsuit. Your attorney will have the defendant served with the lawsuit. Once they are served, they have a specific period of time to answer accordingly. Once the lawsuit is filed, there are strict timelines that govern the claim and are overseen by the court.
The Claim Discovery Stage
After filing the lawsuit, the formal discovery process where each side exchanges information that is relevant to the lawsuit begins. The process includes interrogatories (written questions), requests for evidence/document production, requests for admission, and then the oral testimony taken under oath and recorded in depositions. During this process, your lawyer will be securing evidence for your case.
Discussions and Mediation
Your attorney can continue negotiating a settlement for your injury even as the lawsuit is ongoing. This may take place informally or formally through a court process called mediation. During mediation, a neutral third party listens to the arguments and evidence in the case and then makes a recommendation to try and help the parties attain a settlement.
During the mediation, your attorney will usually begin by making a demand, and then the defendant will respond with a counter-offer. Both parties then go back and forth, trying to reach a settlement.
If, even after mediation, the insurance company refuses to provide fair compensation for your injuries, it might be necessary to proceed to trial. During the trial, each party is given an opportunity to make arguments, question witnesses, and present evidence. After all the provided evidence has been heard, the jury or judge will make a decision as to damages and liability.
A personal injury trial might last days, weeks, or even longer, depending on the available facts as well as the nature and severity of your case.
Trust The Professional California Personal Injury Lawyers at Younglove Law Group Today
Regardless of whether you’re seeking compensation through an insurance settlement or you have to bring a personal injury lawsuit, the procedure can be overwhelming and time-consuming. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help relieve much of this burden by helping you understand and build your case.
If you’ve been injured in California and are thinking of filing a personal injury claim but don’t know where to begin, worry no more! Younglove Law Group has got you covered. As advocates of your rights, we’ll negotiate on your behalf, giving you enough time to focus more on your recovery and on getting back to what matters most in your life. We do everything within our power to help you secure the compensation and justice you deserve. Call us at (949) 691-3660 or fill out this contact form for any legal assistance today.