Are you a recent victim in a personal injury claim? If so, you’re not alone. The National Safety Council reported that there were over 45 million injuries in the United States in 2017.
In California, there is a legal framework where you can seek relief. If you can prove that another person’s negligence or intentional act caused your accident, then this guide is for you.
Learn more about the California personal injury claim process and how you can ask for help to cover your damages. Do your homework today and our system of justice will award you for your loss.
Personal Injury Claim Process: Step by Step
Submitting a personal injury claim may not be the first thing on your mind after your injury accident. You’re naturally going to be feeling other sensations like shock or pain.
Keep these following actions in mind to support your injury claim further down the road:
Seek Medical Treatment
It is important to get medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident. Consult with your doctor to guarantee that your injuries are accurately diagnosed and treated immediately. Documenting this visit can help you prove your injuries are the result of the accident.
Proof will play an important role in your personal injury claim. Take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene. Record the details that you can remember down on paper to preserve the facts.
Report Your Accident
Contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to report your accident. These authorities will have a record of your call that you can use as additional support for your claim.
Hire an Attorney
In California, there are many resources to help you hire an attorney. Legal help can guide your claim through the justice system so that you can concentrate on your recovery.
When looking for an attorney, find a professional who has experience with litigation. There’s a possibility that you won’t be able to negotiate a settlement and your case will move toward a trial. You’ll want an attorney with many years of experience and success in the courtroom.
Consider the Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations means the maximum amount of time you have after an event to file a legal claim in court. If you don’t file your claim before this deadline, you won’t be able to collect any money to pay for your damages.
The California statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years after the date of the event. Sometimes victims aren’t aware of their injuries until a later time. When that happens, then the deadline to file a claim is one year from the date the injury is discovered.
If you are filing a claim against a public or governmental agency, you file what’s called an “administrative claim” with that government office. Your deadline to file an administrative claim is within six months of your accident. The government agency has 45 days to respond to your claim.
The government office may contact you in writing to deny your claim. If so, then you have six months to file a lawsuit against them in court. Your deadline to submit your action is within six months from the date you received your denial.
Send a Demand for Compensation Letter
Once your attorney has finished their own investigation of your case, they will write a demand for compensation letter. This letter is sent to the at-fault party and their insurance company.
The demand letter summarizes information on why the other person is liable for your injuries. It also outlines the damages you received and how much money you expect to receive to correct them.
These letters might help settle your injury claim without filing a lawsuit. The at-fault party can choose to respond or ignore your letter. If your letter is rejected or ignored, your attorney files a legal claim for damages.
Legal Claim for Damages
A legal claim for damages alerts your local court system that you intend to recover payment from the at-fault party. This legal claim is built on your fact gathering information (i.e., site pictures, medical records, etc.) Your attorney will also write a legal argument on why the defendant should pay for your damages.
If you file a legal claim, the at-fault party is obligated to respond. If they don’t, the court will automatically rule in your favor. If the defendant disputes your arguments, your claim moves to the discovery phase.
Discovery is when both sides exchange facts and legal information in a lawsuit. Each party reveals their evidence and what their demands are so that all involved can decide their best course of action.
During the discovery phase, attorneys will conduct what’s called a deposition. A deposition means taking statements from witnesses before a trial. Depositions are another way to learn all the facts of the matter before your claim proceeds further.
Both sides of the claim are allowed to question these witnesses who are under oath, to tell the truth. Once both parties have these statements, they can decide whether to negotiate a settlement or proceed to trial.
Negotiate a Settlement
If both sides agree to negotiate a private settlement, you can then drop your lawsuit. Attorneys on both sides will draft a settlement document that outlines expectations that satisfies both parties. For example, a car accident settlement letter includes terms on payment due dates and installment amounts.
Take Your Claim to Trial
If you and the at-fault party can’t negotiate a settlement, then your claim moves to the trial phase. The trial process is a lengthy and expensive process that you should keep in mind to control costs.
During a trial, a judge or jury will have the final decision on whether you should receive payment and how much. You and the defendant can appeal any final judgments and award amounts that don’t turn in your favor.
Next Steps – Call An Attorney Who Will Fight For You
If you’ve just been injured, your first course of action is to take care of YOU. Visit your doctor immediately. Untreated injuries will get worse and create more complications further down the road.
Once you’ve collected your own evidence, it’s time to seek legal help. You should schedule an appointment with a trusted, experienced law firm who will work day and night for your right to proper compensation. That is where the Sweet Law Group stands out from other firms. The Sweet Lawyers have collected millions in recovery compensation for their clients and will only charge legal fees if your case wins.
Browse the Sweet Law Group website for more information on the personal injury claim process. Or call us today at (800) 674-7854 for a free consultation.