The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Personal injury covers a broad range of cases in which a person can bring a lawsuit against another person or entity for harm suffered due to negligence. Laws allow individuals who have been injured to claim damages for both physical and emotional injury, in order to obtain compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering.
Due to the diversity in cases, the personal injury lawsuit process is complex. If you or a family member are injured due to another person’s negligence it is important to work with an experienced and trusted attorney who can help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries.
Bakersfield personal injury law firm Rodriguez & Associates has outlined the personal injury lawsuit process to help you understand the general development of a personal injury case, from the time of the incident through appeal.
- Seek Medical Treatment
If you are injured in an accident, your priority is to ensure you receive any necessary medical attention immediately. Quick and proper care can help you treat injuries most effectively as well as provide you with documentation provided by doctors, nurses, therapists, and other providers that can help validate your claim.
- Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
It is recommended that you discuss your personal injury claim with an experienced attorney, especially if your situation is complex. Always research potential attorneys to ensure they have demonstrated experience in the practice area of your case, resources available to conduct thorough investigations, and the ability to take your case to trial and appeal if need be.Rodriguez & Associates is an award-winning personal injury firm in Kern County that has built the reputation of prioritizing client needs while pursuing exceptional results in a variety of practice areas including trucking accidents, workplace accidents, and oil field accidents, among others.
It is important to share all details of your case, injuries, medical records, and medical treatments with your attorney so your team has an accurate and pragmatic understanding of your case and can best provide you with clarity and expectations. Each personal injury case is unique and may present challenges related to statutes of limitations, evidence, or testimonies. Keeping accurate records of treatment payments, bills, and other financial information that demonstrate your injuries and recovery will be helpful for your attorney as they fully investigate your situation and determine potential damages.
- Demands and Negotiation
It is not uncommon for a personal injury claim to reach a settlement without ever going to trial. Settlements are determined at this time when your attorney contacts the defendant to demonstrate your intent to file and requests full reparations.Prior to contacting the defendant, your attorney will typically wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning your injuries have healed to completion of your medical plan. Waiting for MMI will allow your attorney to better determine the complete damages of your case, and the full extent of settlement demands.If the plaintiff and the defendant are unable to reach a settlement agreement, the case will move forward toward litigation and a trial.
- A Lawsuit is Filed
Litigation begins when your attorney files a lawsuit on your behalf. In California, a personal injury claim must be filed within two years of the date the accident occurred. The California statute of limitations does not require that your case be completed within that time frame, but according to the law, your case must be filed within two years from the time the injury occurred. There are exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations as well, including medical malpractice cases, cases brought against a government entity, as well as cases in which the injury was not immediately discoverable. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that your lawsuit is filed in accordance with the law.
- The Discovery Phase
During the discovery phase, your attorney and the defendant’s attorney will review and investigate both sides of the case, measuring evidence, testimonies, and defenses against each other. Both the plaintiff’s side and the defense will communicate openly, ask questions, share documents, and take depositions from both sides to establish a complete explanation of what occurred, who was at fault, and where liability falls.
- Mediation and Negotiation
After case materials have been reviewed, lawyers may enter a renegotiation of damages toward a settlement. If they are unable to find a resolution, a neutral, third-party mediator can be asked to assist in the negotiation.
If mediation is not an option or does not reach a resolution, the case may enter into trial. Trials can be time-consuming and expensive processes for both parties, requiring extensive resources and preparation. Trials will culminate in a decision reached by a judge or a jury. The team at Rodriguez & Associates are well-versed trial lawyers who do not back down from the challenge of taking a case to trial if necessary.
If either party disagrees with the judgment made at trial, they may appeal the decision to a higher court. In this process, the court will review the details of the case and how the determination was made by the lower court. An appellate court can either uphold the original judgment or, in the event it is decided there was not enough evidence to make a decision, return the case to its initial stages. To read about one of our recent verdicts upheld on appeal, click here.
While the majority of personal injury cases will not reach trial, it is important to work with a legal team that possesses the resources and capability to help you reach a successful trial verdict, and have that verdict upheld on appeal, if need be. The experienced team of personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates holds records for some of the largest settlements and verdicts in Kern County.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, the attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates will make sure that all needs of your case are met while you focus on recovery. Contact our Bakersfield, CA office today for a free evaluation of your case.