If you have been in a car accident that was caused by another driver, you may have a personal injury claim. Under California law, there are some very specific steps you have to take to protect your rights and to pursue a claim for compensation for your damages. A personal injury claim is a process, not a single event.
Before you can successfully bring a claim for personal injury, you will need to show that the other driver acted negligently and that that their negligence caused your injuries. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care. Negligence is when this duty to drive with reasonable care is breached.
Dealing With the Insurance Company
Usually a personal injury claim is opened with an insurance company before a lawsuit is filed. After a personal injury lawyer has reviewed your case and calculated your damages, the lawyer can prepare a demand for the other driver’s insurance company to pay your damages.
In most cases, this will start a negotiation between the two sides about how much money is required to settle the case. Your lawyer will need to demonstrate both that you would be likely to convince a jury that the other driver was negligent and that the amount of damages you are requesting are likely to be awarded before an insurance company will be willing to settle.
Lawsuits and Dealing With the Court
Because California only gives personal injury victims a limited amount of time to file their claims, or give up the right to compensation, it is important to start the personal injury claims process quickly. An auto accident claim, for example, against a private party must be brought within two years of the accident, while a similar claim against a public entity, such as a state agency or municipality, must be filed within six months. Sometimes, because of complications or because the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, a lawsuit must be filed to protect your rights. Just because a lawsuit is filed does not mean the case will go to trial. The majority of cases settle out of court.
However, once a lawsuit is filed, both sides have to begin making preparations for a trial. This may include steps like depositions and requests for documents. If a case does not settle, most personal injury trials will be held in front of a jury. It is the jury that has the power to decide which side wins and the amount of damages that should be awarded.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you need to speak with an experienced and skilled San Jose personal injury attorney right away. Call the Law Office of John J. Garvey, III today at 408-293-7777 to schedule a consultation. You may only have a short period of time to protect your rights.
While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with the attorney, please call at 408-293-7777 or complete the intake form below.