Here are the top ten common questions and answers that people often have about personal injury cases:
Q: What is a personal injury case?
A: A personal injury case arises when a person suffers some kind of injury or harm due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another party. The injury can be to a person's body or to their personal property. Most lawyers focus on the injury portion of the case. Therefore, if you have no injury to your body from the accident, most lawyers will not get involved.
Q: How do I know if I have a personal injury case?
A: To determine if you have a personal injury case, you generally need to show that someone else's negligence or intentional actions caused your injuries and resulted in damages. Just because an accident occurred is not sufficient. The accident must have caused injury to you.
Q: What can I claim in a personal injury case?
A: In a personal injury case, you may be able to claim various damages, including medical bills (past and potential future medical bills), lost wages/earnings, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage.
Q: Is there a time limit on filing a personal injury lawsuit?
A: Generally your first action will be to bring a "claim." If the claim cannot be resolved, then yoiu may have to consider filing a lawsuit. The time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit (known as the statute of limitations) varies depending on your jurisdiction and the type of case. In California it's currently 2 years from the date of the accident. It's essential to consult with an attorney to understand the specific deadlines that apply to your situation. Remember that these time limits can change over the years.
Q: Should I hire an injury attorney?
A: While it's not required, hiring a personal injury attorney is often beneficial. They have expertise in navigating the legal process, negotiating with insurance companies, and advocating for your rights to seek fair compensation. At the very least, a personal injury lawyer may be able to offer you guidance and answer your questions (even if they cannot take your case).
Q: How is liability determined in a personal injury case?
A: Liability is determined by evaluating all the facts and the evidence involving the case. It involves assessing the negligent party's duty of care, their breach of that duty, and establishing a causal link between their actions and your injuries. These are the basic components of any negligence claim. First you must show the responsible party had a DUTY to refrain from negligence. Second, you must demonstrate the defendant BREACHED their duty. Then you must show that breach CAUSED damage to you. The final compondent is actual DAMAGES (if you don't have damage, you don't have a negligence claim).
Q: Will my personal injury case go to trial?
A: Most injury cases are settled prior to filing a lawsuit. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, your case may proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome. Whether or not you should file a lawsuit depends on many factors and you shouldn't enter into that decision lightly.
Q: How long do personal injury cases take to resolve?
A: The duration of a personal injury case can vary significantly. Some cases settle quickly (within a few weeks or months), while others may take several more months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to achieve a resolution.
Q: How is the compensation determined?
A: The compensation amount depends on several factors including the severity of your injuries, the impact on your daily life, the extent of financial losses, and the available insurance coverage., whether or not you have any residual injury, and whether or not you may require any future medical care. An attorney can help assess the value of your case.
Q: What if I'm partially at fault for the accident?
A: If you share some fault for the accident, that can affect your recovery. In California, we use the notion of comparative fault - you may still be able to recover compensation, but the amount could be reduced based on your level of fault. For example, if your case is worth $100,000, then you might only be entitled to $50,000 if you were 50% at fault for the accident.
Remember, these questions and answers are general, and it's always recommended to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to get specific advice based on your unique circumstances.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,