When other individuals commit negligent actions or inactions, accidents may occur that leave others with severe injuries. In these circumstances, accident victims and their lawyers must often deal with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This process can oftentimes be an uphill battle since insurance companies are usually unwilling to offer favorable monetary compensation to accident victims – especially those who are unrepresented. One of the most important steps you can take following an accident is to seek out a skilled attorney to represent you throughout the entire process.
The knowledgeable team of California personal injury lawyers at Blair & Ramirez LLP can meet with you right away about your accident and potential legal options for recovering the monetary compensation you deserve. Our team can promptly investigate your accident circumstances, speak with witnesses, obtain police reports, and piece together how your accident occurred and who caused it. We can also assist you with every step of the claims-filing, negotiation, and litigation processes.
Furthermore, if the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to take your case seriously or will not offer you the fair monetary damages you deserve, we can assist you with litigating your case in the court system. Our team can answer all of your questions and help you make intelligent and informed decisions about how best to proceed forward in your case.
For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in California, please call us at (213) 568-4000 or contact us online for more information.
Types of Personal Injury Legal Matters
Personal injury cases arise when other individuals or entities commit negligent, reckless, or careless acts. A party is negligent when they fail to behave in a reasonable manner under the circumstances. For example, they might take some action that a hypothetical “reasonable party” would not have taken in the same scenario. Similarly, a negligent party might fail to take some action that a hypothetical “reasonable party” will have taken in the same situation.
When individuals behave negligently, serious accidents and injuries may result. Some of the most common types of accidents that result from the negligence of others include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including car and truck crashes, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents, where another driver violates one or more traffic laws or otherwise operates their vehicle in a distracted, intoxicated, or negligent manner
- Premises accidents, including slip-and-fall incidents, where a property owner fails to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for the benefit of property visitors or fails to promptly warn about or correct a dangerous condition on the property, causing an accident and injuries
- Construction accidents, where a construction company, supervisor, or other individual or entity fails to maintain equipment or machinery on the premises, leading to a serious accident and injuries
If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in an accident that may have involved negligence, you should speak to knowledgeable legal counsel right away. At Blair & Ramirez LLP, we can look at the facts with you and, if necessary, retain an accident reconstructionist to undertake a full investigation of the situation. We can then determine if you are eligible to begin a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. If so, we can assist you during all settlement negotiations with the insurance company and work to secure a favorable result on your behalf.
How to Prove a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit
In every personal injury claim or lawsuit that arises from another party’s negligence, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof in the case. The at-fault individual or entity, however, does not have to satisfy any legal burden or prove anything in the case. Rather, that burden rests solely with the accident victim – or the plaintiff – in the case.
First, the accident victim must legally establish that the at-fault party owed them a duty of reasonable care that they subsequently violated. For example, in the context of a car or truck accident, all motor vehicle operators have a duty to follow traffic laws and drive in a careful and safe manner at all times.
Next, the accident victim must establish that the at-fault party deviated from the standard of care in some manner. For example, in a car accident scenario, the other driver might have engaged in road rage or operated their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition, the accident victim must prove that as a direct result of the other party’s negligence, the subject accident occurred. Finally, the accident victim must legally demonstrate that as a direct result of the accident, they suffered at least one physical injury.
Proving the legal elements of a personal injury claim can oftentimes be difficult. At Blair & Ramirez LLP, our team can secure expert representation for your case. For example, we can retain an accident reconstructionist to piece together how the accident likely occurred and who was at fault. We can also retain a medical expert on your behalf, such as a treating medical provider. Medical experts can be extremely helpful in personal injury claims and lawsuits by establishing:
- That a causal connection exists between the accident victim’s claimed injuries and the subject accident.
- That the accident victim suffered one or more permanent injuries in their accident and that they are unlikely to make a full recovery.
Filing a Timely Personal Injury Lawsuit in Court
Victims of accidents that resulted from negligence in California do not have an unlimited amount of time in which to file a personal injury lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. In fact, in California, the statute of limitations time frame for personal injury cases is extremely short. In almost all situations, absent exceptional circumstances, the statutory time clock starts running on the accident date and ends exactly two years later. If you fail to file your personal injury lawsuit in the court system within two years, the courts will likely prevent you from recovering any monetary compensation and damages for your accident-related losses. Moreover, if you attempt to file a lawsuit after the deadline has expired, the court will more than likely dismiss your case.
To prevent the personal injury statute of limitations from running in your case, you should seek legal help as soon as possible. The knowledgeable California personal injury lawyers at Blair & Ramirez LLP can ensure that your lawsuit is filed on time and well within the statutory deadline. We can then begin pursuing the favorable monetary damages you deserve via a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim with the Insurance Company
In most cases, victims of accidents that result from negligence can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. These types of claims are called third-party claims. For example, in the context of a California motor vehicle accident, the injured accident victim can bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, seeking various types of monetary compensation and damages.
Our skilled legal team can help you gather the necessary documents and other information to pursue a favorable insurance claim. Important documents that are necessary to prove a personal injury claim or lawsuit in California include:
- Copies of the police report or investigation report that describe how the accident occurred, who caused the accident, and whether or not the police officer issued a citation
- Written statements that an eyewitness to the occurrence prepares
- Photographs of any visible injuries that the accident victim suffered in the occurrence
- Photographs of property damage that resulted from the occurrence
- Medical treatment records and bills that describe the treatment the accident victim underwent following the accident
- Lost income documents, if the accident victim had to miss time from work following their accident
Our legal team can gather all of these documents and assemble them into a complete settlement demand package for the insurance company adjuster to review. Along with these documents, we will include a settlement demand letter that makes a demand for monetary compensation within the available insurance policy limits. We will also discuss the demand amount and other information with you prior to submitting it.
After we submit the necessary documentation, the insurance company adjuster handling the claim will likely review it and decide whether to accept fault for the accident. If the insurance company accepts fault, the settlement negotiation process can then begin.
Settlement negotiations are usually an ongoing process that takes place between the accident victim’s personal injury attorney and the insurance company adjuster. Throughout the process, the personal injury lawyer typically decreases their initial settlement demand, while the insurance company representative gradually increases their most recent settlement offer. This process continues until the case either settles or the parties reach a roadblock.
Negotiating with insurance company adjusters is oftentimes a difficult process in a personal injury case because insurance companies have no incentive to offer accident victims significant monetary compensation for their injuries and other losses. Rather, the insurance company has a strong incentive to offer as little monetary compensation as possible and to resolve the case as quickly as possible. Therefore, many settlement adjusters will make lowball settlement offers, at least initially, in an attempt to resolve a case quickly.
Our legal team can zealously and aggressively advocate on your behalf by introducing the appropriate evidence in your case, highlighting the strengths of your claim, and, if necessary, threatening the insurance company with litigation if they fail to offer you reasonable monetary damages. We can also help you determine whether a particular settlement offer is a “good” offer, given the facts and circumstances of your case, as well as the injuries that you suffered. If the insurance company’s final offer is not good, we can then advise you on your litigation options.
Requests for a Recorded Statement
In some cases, after filing a claim, the insurance company may request a recorded statement from the accident victim. Providing a recorded statement is never a good idea, as it only benefits the insurance company. The primary purpose of a recorded statement is to see if the accident victim will divulge any information that can potentially damage their case. Therefore, you should never agree to provide a recorded statement unless you have an attorney present with you in-person or on the phone. Our legal team can represent you during a recorded statement and make the necessary objections to certain questions, if appropriate.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Court?
Typically, personal injury litigation begins when an insurance company refuses to offer an accident victim fair and reasonable monetary compensation for their injuries and other losses. The litigation process begins when an accident victim’s attorney files a lawsuit in the court system, seeking monetary damages. After that step occurs, the insurance company will typically retain legal counsel to represent the at-fault party in the case. The parties will then answer written questions (i.e., interrogatories), exchange documents, and take part in depositions. A deposition is an out-of-court question-and-answer session, during which a defense attorney typically asks the accident victim questions about how their accident occurred, the injuries that they suffered, the medical treatment that they underwent, and the lasting effects of the accident on their life and well-being. Our legal team can help you answer written interrogatories and prepare for your deposition.
Following a deposition, some insurance adjusters may increase their settlement offer to a reasonable amount. If the case settles, it does not move any further in litigation. The majority of personal injury claims and lawsuits do settle at some point during the process, given the high costs associated with in-court litigation. However, if the case does not resolve, the parties may take their case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing for a decision. At a jury trial, the jury resolves all of the disputed issues in the case, including the issue of monetary damages. At a binding arbitration hearing, however, the parties present their case to a neutral arbitrator outside of court who decides the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim.
Our experienced legal team can help you determine whether litigation might be right for your case and, if so, help you explore the most favorable legal options.
Recovering Favorable Monetary Damages for Your Injuries
Accident victims who can establish the various legal elements of their personal injury claim or lawsuit can recover various monetary damages. Every personal injury case and accident scenario is different. Therefore, not all accident victims will be eligible for the same types of monetary recovery. The total monetary damages that an accident victim receives from a settlement or litigation will typically depend upon the type of accident that happened, the surrounding circumstances, the amount of force involved, the injuries that the accident victim suffered, the extent of their medical treatment, the cost of their medical treatment, and whether or not they suffered permanent injuries in their accident.
Compensable monetary damages in a personal injury case may include recovery for all case-related:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental distress
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of the ability to use a specific body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lifetime care costs
- Humiliation or embarrassment from visible scarring
Our team will do everything possible to help you achieve the highest settlement or litigation result possible in your case.
Speak with a California Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away About Your Legal Matter
If you suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you should have a skilled legal team advocating for you every step of the way. Generally, the sooner you retain an experienced lawyer to represent you, the better your chances of securing a favorable result through settlement, trial, or binding arbitration.
At Blair & Ramirez LLP, our compassionate legal team can go over all of your legal options with you, represent you at all legal proceedings, and pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf. For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with an experienced California personal injury attorney, please call us at (213) 568-4000 or contact us online to learn more.