If you’ve been involved in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another party and left you injured, you may have a cause of action to bring forth a personal injury claim. However, before you initiate the claims process, it’s important that you understand the process, as well as when a personal injury claim may lead to a personal injury lawsuit. To help you navigate the claims process, prepare your case for litigation if necessary, and recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you, reach out to the experienced injury lawyers at the office of Fisher and Talwar.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is a type of civil action that is filed when the negligence and wrongdoing of one-party lead to the harm of another. Because it is a civil, not a criminal, action, the outcome of a civil claim has no criminal bearings—the defendant will be liable for monetary damages to the defendant, but will not face criminal consequences. The burden of proof is also lower in a civil suit than it is in a criminal case; it is the duty of the plaintiff to prove the elements of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. By filing a civil claim and proving that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff and that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm, the plaintiff can recover monetary damages for their losses.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
Many people assume that filing a lawsuit is the first step in recovering damages after being harmed by the negligence of another party. However, the reality is that most personal injury claims end without a lawsuit ever being filed or litigation ever being necessary. This is because lawsuits are usually only brought when a settlement cannot be reached first.
The personal injury claims process begins with a claim for damages being filed against the liability insurance company of the at-fault party. For example, if you are in a car accident, you can bring forth a claim for damages against the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy. Similarly, if you are involved in a slip and fall accident, you can file a claim against the property insurance company of the owner of the property where the accident occurred. After investigations have concluded and a demand letter has been sent, both parties will negotiate to reach a settlement that they believe is fair and just. It is only if a settlement cannot be reached that a claimant may decide to file a lawsuit and bring the case to court for a trial.
Damages Recoverable in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury claims and lawsuits are filed for the purpose of recovery damages—monetary compensation to compensate a victim for their harm. Types of damages that are recoverable in a personal injury claim/lawsuit in California include:
- Economic damages. Economic damages are compensation for the value of actual economic losses that the victim has suffered as a result of the accident and injuries, such as medical expenses, property damage costs, or lost wages. Economic damages include both present and future damages.
- Noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages are more difficult to calculate because they are not based on actual economic losses, but rather on intangible harm, such as the value of a person’s pain, suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
California Statute of Limitations
It’s crucial to understand that a claimant has a finite window of opportunity to initiate a lawsuit after suffering harm as a result of another party’s acts. In California, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury. This means that a claimant only has two years from the cause of action to file a lawsuit in civil court; if this two-year limit is breached, the right to pursue damages is forfeited.
Call the Office of Fisher & Talwar Today
If you have been involved in a serious accident that you believe was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, you may have a cause of action to bring forth a personal injury claim. Your first step should be to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who can help you to navigate the process, investigate your case, and build your claim. Be sure to choose an attorney with trial experience in the event that your case does end in litigation.
To learn more about your legal rights and how a personal injury lawyer can help, call the California personal injury lawyers at the office of Fisher & Talwar directly today for a free consultation.