Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
Car accidents. Slip and falls. Medical malpractice.
You may have heard of these before, but when you’re involved in an accident, you will likely be wondering, Do I have a personal injury case?
This guide provides information about personal injury cases to help you answer this question.
For information about your specific situation, you should contact a personal injury attorney who can evaluate the facts of your case and help you understand your legal options.
At Starpoint Law, we bring confidence and compassion to every case. We help clients reclaim their voice and recover the compensation they need to move forward after a personal injury has turned their world upside down.
What Qualifies as a Personal Injury?
What qualifies as a personal injury? Any time you suffer harm because of someone else’s conduct, you may have a personal injury claim against them.
The following are examples of situations that might allow you to bring a personal injury claim:
- A negligent driver crashes into your car;
- You take prescribed medication and suffer severe and unexpected side effects;
- You use a product as intended and suffer an injury;
- While grocery shopping, you slip and fall and break your leg on an unattended spill; and
- Your airbags do not deploy during a car crash caused by someone else, and you suffer extensive injuries.
These are only a few examples of situations that might allow you to file a personal injury claim. The best way to determine if you have a claim is to contact an experienced attorney in your area.
Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
If the following elements are present, you may be able to bring a personal injury case against another person:
- Someone else—for example, a doctor, driver, or business owner—owed you a duty of care to act reasonably under the circumstances;
- That person failed to act appropriately—which is called a breach of duty—by acting irresponsibly or failing to act when they should have done so;
- Their failure to act appropriately caused an accident leading to your injury; and
- You suffered damages.
All four elements must be present for you to have a successful personal injury case. Some legal claims require you to prove other elements to succeed.
For example, to establish that another person or entity owed you a duty of care in a product liability case, you must show that you were using the product within the scope of intended use.
How to Sue for Personal Injury
How to sue for personal injury? Generally speaking, you sue for a personal injury by filing a lawsuit with the appropriate court within the legal time limit, which is called the statute of limitations.
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury. That means you have to file a legal claim against the at-fault party within two years of when your accident occurred.
There are two important things to note about meeting the statute of limitations. First, filing a claim with the insurance company is not the same as filing a legal claim.
So, if you file an insurance claim within two years of the accident but wait five years to file a lawsuit, the court may dismiss your lawsuit as being untimely.
Another important thing to note about the statute of limitations is that the specific deadline depends on the facts of the case and the particular type of legal claim.
There are cases in which you must file a legal claim well before the second anniversary of the accident. In other cases, you may have more than two years.
Talk to a knowledgeable attorney to find out what the deadline is in your situation.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
In the personal injury lawsuit process, filing a personal injury claim can be daunting, especially if this is the first time you have been involved with the court system.
Personal injury lawsuits can take a few months to years to resolve, depending on the specific facts and laws at issue in the case. But each follows a general framework, which we discuss below.
Seek Medical Attention
The first step in a personal injury lawsuit begins with the victim seeking medical attention after the accident.
This helps protect their physical health and sets up a paper trail they can use as evidence that the accident caused their injury.
File an Insurance Claim
Next, injury victims might file an insurance claim with either their insurance provider or the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
The correct company to file a claim with will depend on the specific circumstances.
For example, if you were in a car accident, you typically file a claim with your insurance company after reporting the incident to the police. In other circumstances, you might file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
Before or after you file a claim with the insurance company, you should talk to a personal injury attorney.
An attorney can help you communicate with third parties, like insurance companies, to protect your rights.
Further, they can review settlement offers submitted by insurance companies or at-fault parties to ensure you get maximum compensation for your injury.
An attorney can also help you file a timely lawsuit against the at-fault party.
File a Lawsuit
The next stage is formally filing a lawsuit with the appropriate court. As discussed above, you must file the claim before the applicable deadline expires, or you might forfeit your right to do so.
Engage in Discovery
After you or your attorney files the lawsuit, the discovery stage begins. During this process, you and the opposing parties request information from each other and others who may have information about the accident, your injuries, the at-fault party’s ability to pay, or additional relevant information.
You may request documents, out-of-court testimony via a deposition, and physical evidence.
Negotiate a Settlement
After the discovery process is complete, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations, using the newly discovered information to support their arguments.
Having legal assistance during this process is crucial to help you maximize the compensation you receive and argue the fair value of your case.
An attorney can also help insulate you from the tactics used by unscrupulous parties to get victims to accept a lower settlement than they deserve.
Go to Trial
If the parties cannot reach a settlement, the victim may choose to argue their case at trial.
At trial, the parties and their attorneys present arguments before a judge if you choose a bench trial or a jury if you choose a jury trial.
The parties can also call witnesses to testify in court and present evidence, such as the items they accumulated during the discovery process.
After the trial, the judge or jury makes a final decision and issues a verdict. If the injury victim loses the case and is dissatisfied with the judgment, they may be able to appeal.
Call Starpoint Law for a Free Personal Injury Case Evaluation
Suffering an injury in a slip-and-fall accident, car accident, or another type of incident can have a detrimental impact on your life.
You may be scared, hurt, and confused, but you are also sure that you want to hold the responsible party accountable.
Contact Starpoint Law today to schedule a free personal injury case evaluation.