Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Personal Injury Case?
In simple terms, a personal injury case is a legal dispute that arises when one person suffers harm due to an accident or injury caused by another party's negligence. Unlike criminal cases which seek to penalize a defendant with jail time or fines, personal injury cases are civil cases meant to compensate the injured party for their losses in the form of monetary damages. Personal injury cases can be brought against a variety of parties including a private individual, a business, a corporation, or even a government agency.
How Do I Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case?
To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, an injured party generally must be able to prove the following:
Everyone owes a duty of care to people around them. This means that a person generally has a duty to act (or not to act, depending on the situation) to avoid causing harm to others. When a person breaches this duty of care and it causes injury to another person in a way that could have been reasonably foreseeable, they may be considered negligent under the eyes of the law.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Injury victims in Walnut Creek can seek economic and non-economic damages from the party responsible for their accident. Economic damages encompass all quantifiable losses such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, while non-economic damages compensate victims for things like pain and suffering, disfigurement, and emotional distress. With the exception of injury cases related to medical malpractice, California does not impose a cap on compensatory damages in personal injury cases.
Additional punitive damages may be awarded in rare circumstances where the responsible party acted with extreme negligence or malice, such as cases involving intentional harm. Our attorneys can review the details of your case and provide you with a more accurate expectation of what damages you can expect to recover.
What If I'm Partially Responsible for My Injuries?
You may still be able to recover compensation even if you share some responsibility for your own injuries. Under California's comparative fault laws, also commonly referred to as "comparative negligence," a person injured in an accident can still recover compensation even when he or she is partially to blame for the accident, though their eligible recovery will be reduced proportionate to their percentage of fault. For example, say you were injured in a car accident and suffered $10,000 worth of damages but were found to be 30% at fault for the collision. Under comparative fault rules, you would only be eligible to recover $7,000 (or $10,000 less 30%).
Will I Have to Go to Court?
Not necessarily. While it is impossible to predict whether or not your case will end up going to trial, the vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through out-of-court negotiations between your attorney, the at-fault party's attorney (if they have legal representation of their own), and the involved insurance companies. With that being said, if we feel you are being treated unfairly, if your case is highly contested, or if the insurance company is refusing to offer you an amount that fully compensates you for your injuries, our attorneys are fully prepared to pursue litigation in order to secure a favorable outcome for your case.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
The value of your case will be heavily influenced by factors such as the extent and long-term impact of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatments, the amount of insurance coverage available in your case, the level of liability of the at-fault party, and the negotiation skills of your attorney. It is best that you consult with a skilled attorney to get a more accurate understanding of your case's potential value.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in CA?
The general statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is two years from the date of the injury. In other words, you have two years to file a claim in civil court to seek damages for your injury. With that being said, certain circumstances can extend or shorten this deadline, such as cases involving medical malpractice or the victims of criminal acts. Since adhering to the statute of limitations can have such a critical impact on the success of your case, it is important you contact an attorney as soon as possible to maximize your chances of success.
Common statutes of limitations in California are as follows:
- General personal Injury: 2 years
- Wrongful death: 2 years
- Medical malpractice: 1 year (from discovery)
- Felony victim claims: 1 year (from conviction)
- Serious felony victim claims: 10 years (from conviction)
- Injury claims against a government agency: 6 months
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Walnut Creek, CA
At Brand Peters LLP, your recovery is important. The firm's legal team takes great care in providing its clients with nothing but the very best in terms of the legal representation it offers to the clients it serves. Here, you will be treated with an attention to detail and a level of commitment unmatchable by any other firm in the area.
As you proceed through your case, you will benefit greatly from the knowledge and skills provided to you by an associate at the firm. In fact, nowhere else will you find the same amount of dedication and support. When you need it most, the firm to turn to for help is right here in Walnut Creek, California.