San Jose saw one of its deadliest accident years in 2021. At least 55 people lost their lives. The highest number of fatalities is pedestrians struck by a vehicle. Accidents after dark account for 70% of the fatalities.
No matter how careful you are, there is always the possibility of an encounter resulting in personal injury. If you or a loved one suffers injuries or dies due to another person’s negligence, you need to call a San Jose personal injury lawyer.
Following a serious accident, you may receive a settlement offer from an insurance company. Don’t accept that offer! We are going to give you seven reasons you need to consult with a personal injury lawyer in San Jose, California before agreeing to a settlement.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer provides legal services to people who suffer injury due to the negligence of another. This area of law has legal fees that are easy to manage.
The attorney handles the case on a contingency fee. This means you pay nothing unless they win your case.
Numerous personal injuries warrantpersonal injuries that warrant compensation through a civil lawsuit. This includes accident-injury, workman’s compensation, personal injury, wrongful death, slip-and-fall, and more. Lawsuits may be filed for negligence, intentional wrongs, and strict liability.
1. Objective Viewpoint
Following an accident that results in injuries or death, your main focus is on your recovery. You will likely have hefty medical bills arriving in the mail. This stressful situation leaves you vulnerable to an insurance company’s lowball settlement offer.
Your personal injury lawyer will objectively review the facts of your case to determine whether the insurance company is offering you a fair settlement. Their knowledge of traffic and personal injury law allows them to determine if your case warrants a higher compensation level.
2. Negotiation Experience
When you file a claim following a personal injury, the insurance company’s attorney may take over your case. Even when dealing with a claim processor, they have experience negotiating claims every day. You are battling your case against the pros, and need a professional on your side.
Your personal injury attorney will know the tricks insurance companies play in trying to secure a low settlement. The attorney is aware of personal injury law and will use the law to back your position.
3. Statute of Limitations
It is easy to get caught up in negotiating a settlement with the insurance company and miss your opportunity to file a lawsuit. The best personal injury lawyer in San Jose knows the statute of limitation for each type of lawsuit and will file pleadings in a timely fashion.
The California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1 sets forth the two-year statute of limitations for assault, battery, injury, or death due to neglect or a wrongful act. For property damage, you have three years from the date of the auto accident to file that claim.
If the injuries are due to medical negligence, the time you have is only one year from the date of discovery or three years from the date of injury. The date you use is whichever happens first.
If filing a lawsuit against a government entity, special procedures must be followed. The time frame to file is only six months following the accident.
There are exceptions when the above deadlines may be waived. This includes when the person suffering an injury is a minor child. In that case, there is a specific amount of time following their 18th birthday when they may file a legal claim.
If you do not file your lawsuit by the appropriate deadline, you lose the opportunity to receive compensation.
4. Preparation of Pleadings
When filing a lawsuit the pleadings must follow proper legal format. They must also include the elements of each claim you are pleading. In a negligence claim the pleadings must specifically cover how the events meet these elements:
- That the defendant had a duty to conduct themselves in a specific manner
- That the defendant breached their duty due to specific behavior
- That the defendant’s behavior is the direct and proximate cause of injuries the plaintiff suffers
- That as a result of the defendant’s behavior the plaintiff suffers damages and lists a minimum amount
A firm dollar amount is not shown as the jury then has the option of increasing the amount of the award if the matter goes to trial.
5. Conducting Discovery
There is a considerable amount of work to obtaining discovery, providing discovery, and preparing evidence for court.
The discovery process will begin with your attorney obtaining and reviewing accident reports, police reports, and medical records. They may secure lay and expert witnesses. This includes eyewitness accounts, accident recreation, and medical experts.
Both plaintiff and defense counsel may conduct depositions of parties and witnesses. In a lawsuit, the court will set a deadline when all discovery must be complete.
Interrogatories, Requests to Admit, Request for Documents
During the discovery process, your attorney will likely send interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests to admit to the defendant. Defense counsel will likely send the same discovery requests to your attorney.
Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered completely in writing under oath. Requests to admit are statements made in which the respondent must either admit or deny with an explanation.
Demands for documents can be anything relative to the injury. This includes copies of insurance policies, medical records, OSHA compliance reports, and more.
When submitting requests to the opposing party and when responding to their requests, a specific question and answer format must be followed. There is also a specific time limit in which responses must be sent to opposing counsel.
6. Awareness of Compensation
Your attorney will know the types of compensation you may be entitled to under the law. When filing the lawsuit they will request the compensation you deserve, including:
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Loss of income
- Loss of ability to earn
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Your attorney knows how to determine an appropriate settlement amount. This includes a higher compensation level if you suffer permanent, life-altering injuries.
7. Presentation in Court
Once you file a lawsuit there will be several hearings while the case is in process. This keeps the court apprised of progress being made in resolving the matter. The court will order steps as necessary to help the parties reach a settlement.
There may be settlement conferences, mediation, motions by either party, pre-trial hearing, and the trial. The actual number of hearings and how long the case takes depends on the specifics of each case.
The best personal injury lawyer in San Jose, California will be comfortable appearing and presenting your case in court. They will understand court rules, how to present evidence, and how to question witnesses giving testimony or cross-examine defense witnesses.
Hire a San Jose Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffers a personal injury or death due to another’s negligent behavior, you need a San Jose Personal Injury Lawyer. Call Sweet Lawyers at 1-800-674-7854 to schedule a free consultation.
We will provide an assessment of your case. You will not pay any fees unless we win your case. Don’t hesitate, we are available 24/7 by phone or use our online contact form.