You got injured in an accident and are just discharged by the hospital after your injuries have been treated. What now? You deserve compensation for your pain, suffering, or loss by the individual/s responsible for the accident. You must claim a certain amount of compensation from the defendant’s insurance company. When the insurance company refuses your claim, and the defendant is not holding themself accountable for their fault, you have the right to take the case to court.
The personal injury law in California allows you to claim certain compensation from the defendant’s insurance company if you are going through a personal injury accident. It creates a legal framework to gain civil liability for injuries or property damage.
There are different ranges of an accident depending on fault distribution and the severity of the injury or damage. You need a detailed knowledge of insurance policies and legal rights to address the situation and ensure you are compensated fairly. Your personal injury lawyer will guide you through the process, take care your legal rights and prevents the abuse of the situation created by insurance companies.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When you suffer from injury, property damage, or loss of wages in an accident, you have the right to claim compensation from the insurance company. But suppose the insurance company does not agree with the claim or is taking advantage of the situation. Or the defendant is not being legally responsible for the damage. In that case, you have the right to take the case to court and file a personal injury lawsuit.
The individual injured in the accident and who is filing the lawsuit is called the ‘plaintiff.’ The individual against whom the lawsuit is being filed is legally termed as ‘defendant’, and the lawsuit is called ‘complaint.’
A personal injury lawsuit is when your injury lawyer represents you in front of a judge or a jury against the insurance company or the defendant. The court will assess your complaint to come out with a verdict accepting your claim and offer you what you deserve if you have solid evidence.
Orange County, California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitation is a deadline for filing a lawsuit for a personal injury case. You must file a lawsuit within a certain time to put your claim to court before the time runs out. If the deadline is crossed, you will no longer be liable to ask for compensation.
The statute of limitation for personal injury is 2 years, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1. If the injury is discovered later, the lawsuit should be filed within 1 year of the discovery of the injury. Similarly, you must file a lawsuit within 3 years in case of property damage, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 338.
Orange County Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
1. Understand the Basics of Personal Injury Law in Orange County
Personal injury is legally defined as a physical injury caused to you in an accident or an intentional tort where another individual/s is at fault. The injuries can include vehicle accidents, intentional torts, negligence or carelessness when carrying the responsibility of another individual, dog bites, workplace injuries, child abuse, medical malpractice, and wrongful death.
Personal injury law allows you to claim a certain amount of compensation and file a complaint against the defendant. It encompasses an aid to personal injuries and property damages or loss.
In Orange County, you can file a personal injury lawsuit, no matter the severity of the injury or damage, within the statute of limitation. If you have been misclaimed, mistreated, or abused by your defendant’s insurance company, the personal injury law grants you the right to take the case to a judge or jury.
2. Gather and Organize Evidence
You need solid evidence of the accident and the injury it caused to claim the right amount of compensation you deserve. The evidence of the accident may include witnesses present in the area at the time of the accident, any photographs or video taken at the scene of the accident, or CCTV footage from street cameras or CCTV cameras of nearby landmarks. Every accident is also reported by the police. The police report can be another strong evidence of the accident and your injury. Similarly, the medical report with the medical expert’s note is also evidence of your injury.
You need to contact the authorities or the owners of the landmarks to access the footage to show it to the court as proof of the happening of the accident. Reach out to the witnesses of the accident as well. For instance, if the scene around the accident is a busy street, the people working in nearby restaurants can be witnesses or help you connect with their customers who saw the accident. Interviewing the people around can be time-consuming, and reaching out to everyone can be challenging, but you need to trust the process as they can stand as witnesses during the trial to support your claim. Make sure you are taking enough notes or audio/video recording their testimonials with their consent.
In case of property damage, click many photographs and have reports and receipts from professionals. For instance, if your car is severely damaged in the accident, you can contact the car dealer or a mechanic to back your claim with formal reports on the level of damage.
3. Seek Medical Treatment
After an accident, you must seek medical treatment, no matter the severity of your injury. What might seem minor at the moment can end up being severe later. To avoid that from happening, contacting your local hospital and testing your injury is vital to ensure that any scale of damage is being properly treated.
Your medical report is another crucial piece of evidence of the injury you had to sustain. Keep the medical bills and receipts carefully, as they are also proof of your medical treatment. You can also take photographs of your injury after your emergency treatment because the court date might be scheduled a couple of months, or even years, after the accident when your injuries may have healed or are healing. In the case of a permanent disability caused by the accident, you should have a medical report from multiple doctors and compile every bill and receipt to back your claim.
4. Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
After being injured in an accident, having to work with insurance companies, gather all the evidence, and take it to court is no job of a layman. You need a professional to educate you about your rights, help you understand your situation and the claim you deserve, and represent you in court. That is just the tip of the iceberg of what an injury lawyer can do for you. There are certain qualifications and experience you need to look for when hiring an injury attorney in Orange County.
If you don’t feel your case is severe enough to hire an attorney, think twice. A personal injury lawyer will review your case, determine the amount you deserve, and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf.
A personal injury lawyer has the expertise to gather all the evidence and guide you through the legal procedures. Personal injury law firms also have extensive resources for gathering evidence and legal authority to assess private properties like CCTV footage.
An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to play the right strings to hold insurance companies accountable. They have contacts with medical experts familiar with the legal surrounding to help you understand what your injury deserves. They will review all insurance forms, educate you on the insurance policies and avoid any unethical advantage the insurance company is taking of the situation.
Most importantly, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you in court. They will build a solid case and present it to the judge or jury whole, backing your claim with the evidence. Hiring an injury attorney is extremely important if your personal injury case is getting complicated with insurance companies and is about to end up in trial.
5. Understand the Potential Settlement and Trial Process
In Orange County, the trial process of personal injury lawsuits has different stages.
Before the trial, when both the plaintiff and defendant parties prepare for the trial, they are entitled to be in the loop with each other’s gathered evidence and documents. This is legally termed a ‘Written Discovery’, where both parties can ask for and should share their discoveries to build a fair case. It is vital to share written discoveries if it is a crucial part of the case, and not doing so can lead to further legal actions.
The plaintiff can choose a judge or jury for the trial. Prior to the trial, the attorney of both parties can file for ‘motion’, a legal argument made about the opposite party’s adequacy or strength of the case. As the case is ready for trial in Orange County, the attorneys and the judge must sit in a settlement conference or mediation meeting where the motion is put forth and a decision is made. When the decision cannot be made, the next stage is the trial.
If the trial comes to a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the judge or jury will decide the amount of compensation. If the verdict favors the defendant, the plaintiff will not be eligible for compensation. In the case of comparative negligence, where the fault of the personal injury is shared among the two parties, the judge or jury will determine the share of fault and compensation amount for both parties.
Contact Nordean Law to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
We at Nordean Law, APC, are a team of expert attorneys with an in-depth knowledge of legal procedures. Our specialty lies in our ability to tailor every case based on the situation and our clients. It is in our work scale to strive to build a solid case to stand by your claim and give you what you deserve after a hard accident. We believe everyone deserves fair compensation after being physically, emotionally, and financially affected by an accident. We offer highly skilled personal injury lawyers with a pay-after-you-win policy, taking no fees until you win the trial. Contact us to hire expert personal injury lawyers to represent you in your personal injury lawsuit.
FAQs on How to Prepare for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Orange County
The duration of a personal injury lawsuit depends upon the case. Some can take weeks or months, based on the insurance policies. Typically, it lasts approximately a year if the case is solved right before the trial. If the lawsuit has to go to trial, it can take a maximum of two years.
A personal injury lawyer will take 33% of the final settlement amount of a personal injury case according to the general rule.
Photos, videos, or CCTV footage of the scene of the accident, police report, witness testimonials, medical report of injury, photo of injury, medical bills, and interviews of professionals associated with the accident (mechanical engineer, civil engineer) are some of the evidence needed for an injury claim.