What is Personal Injury Law?
What Exactly is Personal Injury?
While not all of these injuries are the result of negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another party, many serious injuries do result from the wrongful conduct of individuals, businesses and government entities. California Personal injury law establishes the legal framework for imposing civil liability for injuries and fatalities on individuals whose inattentive, careless or intentional acts cause injury to others.
Financial responsibility can be imposed if there is a viable legal theory for holding the defendant liable for the economic and non-economic loss suffered by an injury victim. Liability will most typically be based on negligence, which in the most basic terms refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm. While most personal injury claims are based on inadvertent accidents, intentional injuries, such as those caused by a physical attack or sexual assault also constitutes a basis for imposing liability on a wrongful actor. The final basis for holding a party financially responsible for injuries to another involves strict liability, which refers to specific situations when the law allows liability to be imposed without fault.
A personal injury claim in CA also requires that the conduct at issue cause physical, emotional and/or financial injury to the victim. Whether you are injured by a drunk driver, a fall on a wet floor or a defective product, you might be able to seek a variety of types of damages, including medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, diminished earning capacity, loss of companionship and support of a loved one, adverse impact on one’s lifestyle and punitive damages.
The precise damages available in a personal injury claim will depend on the unique circumstances of your case, but an experienced California accident injury lawyer can evaluate your claim. A reputable personal injury attorney can identify all responsible parties, determine the appropriate basis for liability and seek the full measure of damages.
Steps to Preserve Your Legal Claim When You Are Injured by Another’s Actions
When you are involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer or you fall on a wet grocery store floor, you are likely to be overcome by physical pain, anxiety and emotional distress. These physical and emotional influences can cloud your judgment and influence your decisions. When facing these difficult circumstances, the actions you take can have a notable and enduring impact on your legal rights and remedies.
12 Tips To Help You Win Your Case
We have provided some suggestions about how to proceed after an incident that causes injury, but the best alternative is to seek legal advice from an attorney.
Protect People from Immediate Danger
Many people do not realize that some of the most serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents occur after the initial impact. Some chain-reaction crashes result in catastrophic and even fatal injuries that occur in secondary crashes, involving vehicles that did not see or react to the initial crash. Disabled vehicles may remain in traffic lanes, or vehicle occupants might be unable to get clear of the roadway. The first priority in this situation is to take reasonable steps to prevent further crashes or injuries. This may involve putting out flairs and orange cones or assisting someone trying to get to the side of the road.
Consent to Medical Attention
When people are dealing with the stress and adrenaline rush that occurs during an accident, they often underestimate the severity of their injuries. Shock can mask pain, and certain types of injuries do not exhibit obvious symptoms until some period of time has passed. If paramedics wish to transport you to the hospital, you should respect their medical judgment.
Whether you hit your head in a fall or injure your leg in a crash, you should see a physician even if you think your injury is insignificant. Minor symptoms can hint at potentially serious medical issues that are not immediately apparent, so all symptoms should be disclosed even if they do not seem relevant. The physician will have the medical knowledge to identify potential relationships between such symptoms and serious medical conditions. You also should make sure to attend all appointments and complete all follow-up or rehabilitative care.
If you report all of your symptoms while seeking medical treatment immediately after an accident, you will improve your prognosis and strengthen your legal claim for compensation. The doctor will be able to conduct diagnostic tests that will provide evidence to establish the nature and severity of your injuries.
It also is important to keep notes regarding all of the adverse effects and limitations you experience because of your injury. These notes should include days missed from work, limitations in your daily activities and expenses related to your injury.
Take Pictures and Gather Evidence
If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision, you or someone with you should get the name, insurance information, car license plate number, address and phone number of the other driver. You should also get the contact information for witnesses to the accident. Any parts broken off of your vehicle should be preserved rather than discarded, so they can be viewed by an insurance adjuster and/or an accident reconstruction expert. It is also important to take photographs your injuries, vehicle damage, relative position of the vehicles and the general vicinity of the accident from multiple angles. This evidence can help an accident reconstruction expert analyze the crash and explain the dynamics of the crash in terms understandable to a jury.
While we used a car accident in the example above, you should preserve evidence whether the accident is a trip and falls, construction accident, industrial accident or other incident that causes injury. If you are injured by a defective product, you should also keep the packaging, any product inserts, instructions and all product parts. You need to act quickly if the product that caused your injury is in the possession of a third party. A personal injury attorney can take action to get the product back, which may include filing for a restraining order to prevent the product from being altered, discarded or destroyed.
Have an Accident Report Prepared
Whether you are injured on a ride at an amusement park or when you are struck by a vehicle while walking across the street, you need to make sure that an accident report is prepared that documents the incident. If the accident is a pedestrian accident or other form of vehicular collision, you should summon law enforcement to prepare an accident report. When you speak with the officer, you should indicate why you think the other driver was at-fault. If the other driver blew through a red light or smells of alcohol, this information should be communicated to the investigating officer. If your injury occurs in an amusement park accident or fall in a store, the company should prepare an incident report. You should make sure you get a copy of this report as well as the names and contact information for anyone that witnessed the incident.
Be Careful What You Say
If you have never been involved in a collision, the experience can be extremely disturbing and unsettling. The confusion and disorientation that accompanies such a traumatic event can result in people uttering statements that will later come back to haunt them. You should never admit fault at the scene of an accident, even if you believe that you caused the crash. The process of determining liability for a traffic accident is often so complicated experts disagree. A layperson at the scene of a crash under extreme stress is not in the position to accurately determine fault. Insurance companies might use such admissions or even an “I am sorry” to argue that you admitted responsibility for causing the crash.
Beware of Wolfish Insurance Adjusters in Sheepish Clothing
The other party’s insurance adjuster might seem amicable, helpful and genuinely concerned about your well-being. Some accident victims damage their case by letting their guard down and disclosing information to an adjuster that later will be used to deny liability or reduce a damage award. The adjuster is an employee of the insurance company, so his or her job is to help the insurance carrier avoid paying your claim. Even if you are careful not to intentionally provide potentially damaging information, insurance adjusters handle hundreds or even thousands of claims, so they have extensive experience extracting damaging facts.
The insurance company may even be prepared to cut you a check, but you should understand this is a trap! The insurance company will never offer you the full value of your claim without a fight. This would go against their principle objective of increasing profits. When you accept a lowball settlement offer, you will be asked to sign a general release or similar document that can waive all of your legal rights, including those you do not know exist. The best practice is never to speak with a representative of the other driver’s insurance company without talking to your California accident injury lawyer.
Speak with a Reputable and Established Personal Injury Lawyer
The immediate aftermath of an accident is a critical time in terms of the success of a personal injury claim. When personal injury victims delay seeking legal advice from a lawyer, their legal claim can be severely damaged in many ways, including the following:
- Loss or alteration of evidence
- Witnesses disappearing
- Disclosure of damaging facts
- Non-compliance with legally imposed deadlines
- Lack of adherence to special procedures when suing government entities
- Failure to create sufficient medical records
Given the critical importance of a prompt investigation to success in pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, prompt action to consult and retain an experienced personal injury attorney can put the odds of a successful outcome in your favor.
California Tort Law: An Overview
The countless scenarios that can lead to a personal injury make pursuing a legal claim for damages extremely complicated. The nuance and sophistication involved in successfully pursuing a claim will be impacted by the unique facts of your situation. Success in a personal injury lawsuit involves thorough knowledge of California law and effectively handling the following types of matters:
- Careful investigation and review of the facts
- Current knowledge of changing case law and statutes
- Compliance with court procedures and legal timing requirements
- Collaboration with experts in fields like engineering, accident reconstruction, economics, medicine and others
- Effectively presenting liability and damage claims to insurance companies
- Persuasive advocacy in a courtroom
While the law that applies to your situation might vary depending on the type of accident, we have provided a general overview of personal injury law in California.
By far, the most common legal theory for imposing liability in a personal injury action is negligence. When a plaintiff files a personal injury claim based on negligence, the plaintiff must establish the following elements: (1) legal duty, (2) failure to comply with that duty, (3) causation and (4) harm to another individual.
Liability may only be imposed on an individual, business or government entity for injury to another person if the defendant owes a legal duty of care to the injury victim. Some might be surprised that a person walking by the beach has no legal duty to rescue a drowning swimmer. This is true even if the victim is a child drowning in two feet of water five feet from a would-be rescuer who is wearing a swimsuit. From a legal perspective, it does not matter that the child may die or that the rescuer could save the child with virtually no effort or negative consequences.
While the bystander walking along the beach might have a moral duty to save the child, the scope of duty to act is less expansive under the law. If the person on the beach is the child’s parent, this parental relationship creates a legal duty to act. Similarly, a family friend who voluntarily takes the child to the beach would also have a legal duty to exercise due care for the safety of the child swimmer. A person who inadvertently bumped the child into the water also could not simply abandon the child. The point of these examples is that the legal duty to act or abstain from conduct can differ from what one considers the moral duty to intervene in a given situation.
While people generally owe a duty to take reasonable care not to cause foreseeable injury to others, this duty is most likely to be found to exist based on the following:
- Commercial or contractual relationship between the parties
- Family relationships, such as parent’s responsibility for the care of a child
- Conduct of the defendant that places the injury victim in a position of peril
- Duty imposed by law, statute, regulation or ordinance
When a duty of care is owed, then the failure of a party to exercise the applicable standard of care may be the basis for imposing liability.
Breach of the Duty of Care
In most situations, people owe others a duty to act as a reasonably prudent person to avoid causing others to suffer harm. This standard essentially requires a jury to evaluate whether the defendant’s conduct was consistent with how a reasonable person would have acted or not acted in a particular situation to avoid causing injury to the victim. The standard is an objective standard, so the defendant’s conduct is evaluated without consideration of mental or psychological limitations of the defendant. Intoxication by drugs or alcohol also do not mitigate the defendant’s responsibility because the defendant exercised a choice to get intoxicated prior to engaging in the conduct.
The reasonable person standard requires drivers of motor vehicles to obey traffic laws, pay attention to the road and drive carefully. When motorists engage in unsafe driving practices like text messaging or driving drunk, this conduct will usually be considered a breach of the reasonable person standard. Similarly, a grocery store that fails to rope off areas around a spill, clear the hazard, or use signs or barriers to warn of a wet floor can be found to have breached the duty of reasonable care.
While the “reasonable prudent person standard” applies in ordinary situations involving your typical car accident, slip and fall accident and similar circumstances, there are situations where a higher duty of care is owed to an injury victim. There also are situations where a party might owe a lower duty of care to an injury victim. Some examples of cases that might involve a standard of care other than the reasonable person standard include but are not limited to the following:
Common Carriers: When patrons purchase tickets to ride a bus, train, subway or other form of transportation at a published rate, patrons essentially place their safety in the hands of the public or private transportation company. The patrons have no way to ensure that the vehicles are properly maintained or that the operators are competent and properly trained, so common carriers owe patrons a high duty of care.
Doctors and Health Care Professionals: When a doctor causes injury to a patient, the reasonably prudent person standard is inapplicable because a doctor has specialized training and knowledge. The legal standard for doctors and other medical professionals is that of a similarly trained medical professional in the geographic area.
Trespassers (Premises Liability and Dog Bite Cases): While a property owner cannot set traps or intentionally harm trespassers, trespassers are owed a minimal duty of care unless the homeowner has reason to know the trespasser is present.
There are two forms of causation that must be satisfied to prevail under California law. The first type of causation is the type that people think about in normal conversation. When a scaffolding collapses because it was erected incorrectly, faulty construction of the scaffolding is a “but for” cause of the accident. This type of causation is most frequently disputed in medical malpractice cases, mesothelioma cases, dangerous drug cases and other cases where the link between the outcome and the behavior alleged to cause the accident can be disputed.
This type of causation can be difficult to prove in these situations because of the long lapse of time between the negligent conduct or exposure to a hazardous substance and the discovery of the harm. It might take decades for a person to develop cancer or mesothelioma, for example, after exposure to asbestos or a misdiagnosis by a doctor.
The law of negligence also requires a personal injury victim to prove another form of causation, typically referred to as “proximate cause.” Although this legal principle can be very complicated, the basic idea is that the harm from a particular act or omission must be reasonably foreseeable. While medical malpractice committed by a doctor treating a car accident victim might be foreseeable to a drunk driver, a violent shootout at the hospital would likely be outside the scope of the risk of alcohol impaired driving. The causal connection between the negligent conduct and the harm suffered by the victim cannot be so convoluted and remote that a reasonable person could not be expected to anticipate the consequences of his or her action or inaction.
A personal injury action requires that the conduct of the defendant directly cause the harm suffered by the plaintiff. The types of harm that are typically compensated in a personal injury lawsuit include physical injury, financial loss and property damage. The injury victim can be compensated for both economic out-of-pocket loss and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Many people find it counter-intuitive that lawsuits involving intentional tort claims are far less common than those based on negligence. Admittedly, intentional misconduct is more deserving of punishment and deterrence than injuries caused by carelessness or inattention. Again, this is an area whether the economic realities of the law tend to depart from everyday notions of basic morality. While you might consider it more important that someone who is brutally beaten be compensated than a car accident victim with comparable injuries, insurance in California does not cover intentional misconduct.
While the victim of a sexual assault, rape or battery might have a legitimate claim for damages, the lack of insurance coverage means that the lawsuit is only viable if the perpetrator can pay the claim. If the assailant is sufficiently wealthy, then there will be assets available to satisfy a settlement or judgment.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will conduct asset searches to identify houses and other assets that might be reached to compensate someone who is the victim of a criminal act. However, the more prudent approach in these types of cases often involves suing a third party who is covered by insurance. If a person is viciously attacked while leaving a restaurant, for example, the business might be liable for not providing adequate security.
Under certain circumstances, the law permits liability to be imposed on a party regardless of fault. This type of legal claim is referred to as “strict liability”. If the evidence supports imposition of strict liability, these cases can be much easier to prove because evidence of negligent conduct is unnecessary. Some examples of cases subject to strict liability include:
When a company designs, manufactures or sells a product that is defective, any entity in the production or distribution chain may be liable for injuries caused by the product. These parties include the manufacturer of the product or parts, the wholesaler, the entity that installed or assembled the product and the store that sells the product.
The rationale for imposing strict liability in this situation is that the company is in the unique position to identify the defect and make the product safe for consumers. Further, companies have the ability to obtain liability insurance to cover injuries caused by their products. An important exception to the principal of strict liability in this situation is that the product must be sold in the ordinary course of business. In other words, an injury victim cannot successfully pursue a product liability claim based on a defective product purchased at a swap meet.
Under strict liability law, the customer who purchases the product is not the only party that might have a legal claim against a company in the production or distribution chain. Individuals who were reasonably foreseeable victims of the product can also pursue a legal claim for damages. A toy with detachable parts might be safe for children who are over a certain age but not children under three. It is certainly foreseeable that a 2 year old might try to play with a toy purchased for an older sibling. Similarly, the risk of injury from a defective metal bat might pose a foreseeable risk to all players in a baseball game not just the batter who purchased the bat.
For strict liability to be imposed based on injuries to non-purchasers, the product must be used for the purposed intended. However, a reasonably foreseeable form of misuse can justify holding a company strictly liable for damages to a customer who purchases the defective product.
There are three major types of defects upon which product liability claims are based:
Design Defects: These are defects that are inherent in the product. Even if the product is manufactured precisely according to product specifications, the product will be unsafe.
Manufacturing Defects: This type of defect represents a deviation from the specifications for the proper manufacturing of the product. There will be individual units or lots of the product that do not comply with the product specifications. Assembly and installation defects also fall within this category of product defect.
Marketing Defects: When a product has inadequate instructions or warnings, these deficiencies are referred to as marketing defects. This type of defect also includes misleading marketing, such as marketing a drug for unsafe off-label uses.
Extremely Hazardous Activities
There are some types of conduct that present an unreasonable risk of harm no matter what precautions are taken to protect the public. Because the activity is extremely dangerous to others even when reasonable care is exercised, the individual or entity that engages in this activity is required to bear the cost of potential injuries. Examples of inherently dangerous activities include use of explosives, storage of hazardous chemicals, crop dusting and fumigation.
Dog Attacks and Bites
California law like that in many states has a dog bite statute that makes dog owners strictly liable for dog bite injuries provided certain conditions are satisfied. In cases where the statute applies, a dog bite victim is relieved of the obligation of establishing knowledge by the dog owner that the dog was vicious or negligence by the dog owner.
Who Can I Sue for My Injuries?
Many personal injury claims involve multiple parties who are alleged to be responsible for an individual’s injuries. When someone suffers severe or even catastrophic injuries, the party that might appear to be the most responsible for the accident might have inadequate insurance coverage to fully compensate an injury victim.
The California minimum auto insurance liability limits, for example, are extremely low. A driver is only required to carry $15,000 in coverage for a single injury victim and $30,000 total for multiple injury victims. Estimates of the cost of accident-related injuries by the National Safety Council make it clear that these levels of insurance coverage are unlikely to be sufficient if you are injured in a collision:
- Incapacitating Injury: $72,200
- Non-incapacitating Injuries: $23,400
These estimate apply basically to lost wages, medical expenses and vehicle damage without regard to pain and suffering, diminished future earning capacity, adverse impact on your lifestyle and a plethora of other types of damage. If you suffer a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or other debilitating catastrophic injury, your lifetime medical costs can easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because many people are uninsured or underinsured, a reputable lawyer will carefully investigate the circumstances of your accident to identify all potential defendants with insurance coverage. Parties who might be financial responsible for your damages in a personal injury lawsuit include:
Drivers: If a motor vehicle driver violates traffic safety laws, fails to pay attention to the road or engages in other unsafe driving practices, the driver may be liable for your injuries. If the driver violates a public safety law, this can be a basis for imposing a presumption of negligence, which is referred to as “negligence per se”. The presumption of negligence is appropriate if the following is true:
- The defendant violated a statute, ordinance or regulation of a public entity;
- The violation was the proximate cause of injury or death of another person;
- The harm was the type that that the law was enacted to prevent;
- The person injured was within the class of people that the statute was intended to protect.
By way of example, California courts have found that driving too fast can constitute negligence per se and create a presumption of negligent driving. While the presumption can be overcome, the burden of proving that the conduct was not negligent falls on the defendant.
Owners of Premises: Owners of commercial, public or residential property can be liable for injuries that occur on their property. When you are injured by a hazard while on the property of another individual or entity, you might have a claim for damages based on premises liability law. Property owners typically have a duty to warn of the existence of hazards on their property or to eliminate the unsafe condition. This duty can even apply when the owner did not create the unsafe condition. California law imposes a duty of reasonable care toward business visitors, social guests and even a trespasser under certain circumstances. Depending on the circumstances, the property owner may have a duty to inspect his or her property to discover potential dangerous conditions.
Public Entities: While a government entity can be liable for damages caused by public employees or conditions on government owned property, personal injury claims against public entities are more complicated than lawsuits against private entities or individuals. The U.S. Constitution grants public entities sovereign immunity from civil lawsuits. Most public entities have enacted laws waiving this protection to some degree. However, you must comply with special procedures and notice requirements to pursue a claim against a governmental entity in California.
If you are suing the State of California, you must understand the requirements and deadlines imposed by the California Tort Claims Act. When suing a federal entity, you need to comply with the Federal Tort Claims Act. A person who fails to comply with the notice and timing deadlines of these acts may be barred from suing the government. If you are injured in a fall on government property or a collision with an uninsured driver working for the government, the financial impact of non-compliance with a tort claims act can be financially devastating.
Vehicle Owners: When a party entrusts his or her vehicle to a driver who the owner knows or should know is not competent, the vehicle owner can be liable for damages. For example, a vehicle owner might lend his car to someone who has had his license suspended and vehicle impounded for drunk driving. If the person using the car is involved in a collision while intoxicated, the owner of the vehicle might be financially responsible for “negligent entrustment” of the vehicle.
Employers: When an employee is performing job-related functions or driving a company vehicle, the employer of a negligent driver might share financial responsibility for injuries caused by a traffic accident. The legal doctrine that allows the negligence of an employee to be imputed to an employer is referred to as “respondeat superior”, which literally translated means “let the employer answer”.
Joint and Several Liability: What should be clear at this point is that many incidents that result in injury to another are caused by multiple defendants. California law follows the doctrine of “joint and several liability.” This legal doctrine provides that when multiple defendants share fault for causing injury, they are each responsible for the entire amount of an injury victim’s economic damages, such as lost wages, medical bills, vehicle damage and diminished earning capacity. General damages that include pain and suffering and other non-economic forms of damages are apportioned between defendants based on their percentage of fault.
What Kinds of Damages Can a California Accident Injury Lawyer Seek in My Case?
There are three broad categories of damages that might be available in your personal injury lawsuit: (1) general damages (also called “compensatory damages” or “actual damages”), (2) special damages; and (3) exemplary damages. The specific damages available in your case will be based on the facts and circumstances, so you should speak with an experienced attorney who can evaluate your claim. We have provided an overview of the types of damages that are available in many personal injury claims.
Special Damages (Compensatory Damages): Special damages refer to quantifiable forms of economic loss, which may include but are not limited to the following:
- Lost income: This includes all lost earnings starting from the accident through the final resolution of your case.
- Medical Costs: This form of compensation covers emergency response costs, emergency room bills, hospitalization expenses, physician bills and other expenses related to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitative therapy. Generally, all past and future medical expenses fall within this category of damages.
- Vehicle Damage: This form of damages covers repair or replacement of your vehicle and damage to property inside the vehicle.
- Lost Future Earnings: If you suffer partial or total disability, so you cannot work or need to change occupations, this form of damages will compensate you for the loss of future income.
General Damages: These are non-economic forms of loss that can be more difficult to quantify. Given the challenge associated with proving general damages, a skilled attorney who can effectively communicate the extent of your pain and suffering and changes in lifestyle can have a substantial impact on a jury’s award of these types of damages:
- Pain and Suffering: This form of damages requires skilled advocacy to help a jury understand the extent of the suffering and pain that the injury victim was forced to endure and may continue to suffer in the future.
- Emotional Distress: This form of damages may compensate a victim for the emotional harm experienced by disfiguring injuries or loved ones who personally witness fatal or catastrophic injury to a family member.
- Loss of Society and Companionship: Immediate family members might receive this form of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of love and companionship of the decedent.
- Loss of Consortium: This damage claim is asserted by a spouse for the loss of comfort, affection, companionship and sexual intimacy of a spouse.
Exemplary Damages (“Punitive Damages”): This form of damages is not available in personal injury cases involving ordinary negligence. The conduct must be particularly egregious or malicious to justify punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Common Defenses to Personal Injury Actions Based on Negligence
While the defenses that will typically be asserted by the insurance company for the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit will be determined by the specific facts of the case, there are a few standard defenses that all injury victims should understand.
Statute of Limitations: This is the most important defense for plaintiffs to understand. Every civil action is subject to a deadline within which a complaint initiating a lawsuit must be filed. If the plaintiff fails to comply with the statute of limitations, this will almost always be a permanent bar to recovery. It is imperative to understand that the law does not recognize a “hardship exception” nor can the judge consider the merits of your case. The critical importance of compliance with the statute of limitations makes time of the essence when seeking legal advice about your personal injury claim.
Comparative Negligence: This defense is based on the principle that everyone has a duty to exercise reasonable care for their own safety. If a jury determines that the conduct of both parties contributed to a plaintiff’s injuries, the damage award will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. Because California is a “pure comparative fault” jurisdiction. This means that a plaintiff can recover damages even if he or she is 90 percent at-fault for his own injuries, but the recovery will only amount to 10 percent of the plaintiff’s damages.
Assumption of the Risk: If you engage in an activity where you know and understand the risk but proceed to engage in the activity anyway, you might be determined to have assumed the risk of injury. If you suffer a neck injury on a rollercoaster at an amusement park, the insurance company will probably assert assumption of the risk as a defense. Many times these types of high risk activities require a person to sign a waiver of liability. In other cases, elaborate disclosures about the risk are provided, such as the signs one might see when waiting in line for an amusement park ride. However, you cannot assume a risk that would not ordinarily be contemplated by participating in the activity.
Selecting a High Quality Personal Injury Lawyer Can Make a World of Difference
While there are many excellent attorneys in California, they are not all equally qualified to represent you in a personal injury claim. At The Reeves Law Group, we understand that selecting a lawyer to handle your personal injury claim can be challenging. We have provided some suggestions that can make the process less daunting:
Choosing the Right Lawyer
Litigation is expensive, so you need a law firm with deep pockets.
The costs associated with pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can be enormous. As a general rule, more sophisticated cases that involve medical malpractice, product liability, toxic torts and similar cases involving a relatively high degree of complexity will be more expensive. Law firms in personal injury cases front the costs of litigation, so it is important that the law firm has the financial resources to afford experts in fields like accident reconstruction, economics, neurology, engineering, life-care planning and vocational rehabilitation. When taking on large insurance companies and well-financed corporate defendants or public entities, you need a law firm with a large enough war chest to win.
A jack of all trades is not as good as a master of one.
There are a fair number of attorneys who handle some personal injury cases while also handling estate planning, family law, criminal defense and a litany of other practice areas. The law is constantly changing, so the process of staying current requires continuously reviewing changing statutes and regulations and analyzing new court decisions. The process of attending seminars focusing on emerging and sophisticated personal injury litigation issues is extremely time-consuming. The task of maintaining a high level of expertise in multiple areas of law simply requires too many hours to be practical.
Your personal injury lawyer should have extensive experience and a solid professional reputation.
There are enormous benefits to working with a personal injury lawyer with extensive experience who is respected by peers, judges and insurance carriers. An inexperienced attorney cannot draw on proven strategies that are time tested in prior cases. Further, a less experienced lawyer may not be as skilled in negotiation or trial. There is no question that insurance companies research the background and experience of a plaintiff’s attorney when assessing how to proceed. If you attorney is held in high esteem and has obtained significant verdicts at trial, insurance companies may be more inclined to agree to a favorable settlement.
If you select an attorney who responds to your questions and reasonable requests for updates, you can avoid feeling victimized for a second time.
The most common complaint about attorneys to the California State Bar Association is that attorneys fail to communicate adequately. When you have been victimized by careless or intentional conduct that causes you to suffer injury, the last thing you want is to feel victimized again because your attorney will not communicate with you. Our attorneys work diligently to respond to calls and emails the same business day or the next business day. We also cc our clients on important correspondence, so they are continuously involved in the process of resolving their case.
The attorneys at The Reeves Law Group have successfully represented thousands of personal injury victims. Our exemplary results has helped us build a reputation for diligence, professionalism and skilled representation. We have the resources, commitment and tenacity to take on major national insurance companies and large multi-national corporations when standing up for injury victims. We invite you to contact us to schedule an immediate free consultation with a personal injury attorney to learn about your rights and remedies by calling (800) 644-8000.