Frequently Asked Questions About California Personal Injury Laws
Call Our San Jose Injury Law Firm for More Information
California allows certain individuals to pursue claims against negligent or reckless parties who caused them to suffer damages. Compensation from a personal injury claim can help victims who suffered harm due to a variety of situations. However, there are requirements and other factors that you should be aware of if you plan to pursue a claim. Our San Jose injury law firm compiled a brief guide that can walk you through some of the general questions we receive on a regular basis.
The San Jose personal injury attorneys at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP can help determine your eligibility for filing a claim for damages. You can ask us questions about your personal situation during a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Read below to learn more about how personal injury cases work in California.
- Can I file a personal injury lawsuit?
- What damages are covered in a personal injury case?
- How long will my personal injury case take?
- What can I file a personal injury case for?
- How much is my case worth?
- How much do personal injury attorneys cost?
- Do I need a personal injury attorney?
- What should I look for in a personal injury attorney?
- What is mediation?
Can I file a personal injury lawsuit?
It depends on the circumstances. Not everyone can file a personal injury case because there are specific requirements. For instance, there is a statute of limitations or deadline for filing a lawsuit. However, the statute of limitations varies depending on the person and defendant.
You also would need to demonstrate the other party was negligent or caused intentional harm before you could file a lawsuit. There may also be specific laws relating to your particular situation. For example, California has specific laws for cases involving dog bites. Owners are strictly liable for dog bites under the right circumstances. You would not need to demonstrate that the owner was negligent.
There are also specific rules for filing a personal injury claim against a government entity. You would have significantly less time to file and there are additional requirements. We strongly encourage you to speak with one of our attorneys as soon as possible if you suspect a government entity caused your damages.
What damages are covered in a personal injury case?
The damages in a personal injury lawsuit vary on a case by case basis. There are economic damages that cover tangible expenses related to your injury and noneconomic damages that take your pain and suffering into account.
Damages often include medical bills, lost income, loss of future earning potential, and pain and suffering caused by the injury or loss. It would depend on the nature and severity of the injury as well as your circumstances. Punitive damages are also possible if your case proceeds to a trial and the jury finds the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious.
The amount of your present and future medical expenses, current employment, familial relationships, future earning capacity and travel needs could also factor into the compensation recovered at the conclusion of a settlement or jury verdict.
How long will my personal injury case take?
Your attorney may attempt to reach a settlement on your behalf with the defendant’s insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies may refuse to offer a settlement that can cover your damages. For instance, they may claim that you are partially or fully responsible for the accident to reduce the value of or deny your claim. In this case, it may be necessary to seek a trial to force a fairer settlement or to obtain a jury verdict.
It will take longer to receive compensation if your case proceeds to a jury trial. However, it may be the only means of obtaining compensation that can cover your damages in full.
Additional options for pursuing compensation include mediation and arbitration. These are options, where ideally, a neutral third party helps resolve differences between the defendant and plaintiff.
What can I file a personal injury case for?
There are a couple of scenarios where you could file a personal injury case in California. Reasons for filing a case include but are not limited to:
- Auto accidents (motorcycle, pedestrian, bicycle, truck and car accidents)
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bites and attacks
- Injuries suffered on the property of a business, person or government entity
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Injuries caused by defective consumer products
- Injuries or illnesses caused by toxic products
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace construction accidents involving third parties
How much is my case worth?
The amount of compensation you can recover depends on multiple factors, such as the severity of your injury, pain and suffering caused by the injury, the amount in medical bills, and present and future earning capacity.
Additionally, there are cases where you may be partially responsible for your damages, which would limit the amount of compensation you could recover. California has a “pure comparative negligence rule” that allows you to recover compensation even if you are partially liable for your damages. However, the amount you can obtain depends on your percentage of fault.
You should have an attorney review the specifics of your situation to get an idea of what your damages might be and how much you may be able to recover.
How much do personal injury attorneys cost?
Needham Kepner & Fish LLP takes cases on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that we pay for all of the costs associated with litigating your case. Moreover, you only pay attorneys’ fees if your case ends in a settlement or verdict. If we obtain a settlement or verdict, then a percentage of the compensation covers the attorneys’ fees.
Almost all personal injury law firms and attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This is because contingency fees allow all members of the public to access our nation’s justice system, regardless of their income.
Do I need a personal injury attorney?
Not all people need a personal injury attorney. If your case resulted in very minor injuries and you did not suffer extensive damages, then you may not need a personal injury attorney for your situation. However, you should still speak with an attorney before making a decision.
Certain types of injuries can leave you and family members with damages in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. You would want to give yourself the best chance of recovering a settlement or verdict that can pay for those damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can increase the odds of obtaining compensation that can cover the expenses associated with your injury or loss.
Recovering after an accident or loss is an emotionally and financially difficult process to go through. Experienced personal injury attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to handle your case. For instance, your attorney may work with medical experts or accident reconstruction specialists. Your attorney could negotiate a settlement or try a case before a jury. These would be extremely difficult, or perhaps even impossible, tasks for the vast majority of people.
What should I look for in a personal injury attorney?
You have a couple of options for finding a personal injury attorney who can meet your needs. Asking friends on social media or asking another attorney for a referral could work. Many people use Google, Bing and other search engines to find an attorney.
You should look for an attorney who has experience with cases that are similar to your own. If you were in a truck accident, then it helps to have an attorney who is familiar with truck accident cases. The same is true for car, motorcycle and bicycle accidents. You may be able to pull anonymous information about a law firm’s prior cases by looking at their website. Additionally, you can check the content on the firm’s site to look at the types of cases they take.
Finally, you should also determine whether the client has good online ratings. Yelp, Google, Facebook, Martindale and Avvo ratings could factor into your decision.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process for resolving a case that takes place outside of court. As a type of alternative dispute resolution, mediation relies on a neutral third party to help resolve cases. You can use mediation for many types of disputes, including personal injury claims.
Mediation is cost-effective, less stressful than litigation and very effective at solving difficult disputes. Depending on the circumstances, you may save thousands of dollars by using mediation for your case.
With the help of a mediation, you and the other party can come to a mutually beneficial resolution. The attorneys at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP offer mediation services.
About Our San Jose Injury Law Firm
Needham Kepner & Fish LLP is a San Jose injury law firm with extensive experience handling a variety of personal injury cases. We can help with all types of auto accident cases as well as premises liability and nursing home abuse cases.
For more information on filing a personal injury case in California, please call us at (408) 956-6949 or use the contact form on our website. We offer free initial consultations that can help explain your potential legal options for filing a case.