It’s understandable to have a host of questions after suffering a personal injury in San Jose. You might be wondering who is to blame, whether you have the right to seek compensation, and how to speak to insurance claims adjusters. Our San Jose injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation legal consultations so you can ask a lawyer your most pressing case questions. Before meeting with an injury attorney, use these personal injury FAQs (frequently asked questions) for general information about the claims process in California.
The California courts permit people with personal injuries of all types to seek restitution through the civil justice system. If an accident caused you any type of injury, property damage, lost income, or other types of damages, discuss your compensation options with an accident attorney. Note, however, that most attorneys will only accept cases involving serious to catastrophic injuries. More minor injuries and smaller-value claims often don’t need legal representation.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your case after suffering a personal injury is to speak to a lawyer about your options. A lawyer can immediately listen to your story and offer advice about what to do next – free of cost and obligation. You should also seek medical attention for your injuries, as well as start putting together a file of information about your case. This file should include police or accident reports, medical records, photographs, and any other evidence that may pertain to your claim.
You will need to file an insurance claim of some sort after most personal injury accidents in California. This is the case for most car accidents, slips and falls, dog bites, etc. The insurance company you contact will depend on who you believe caused your injuries. The at-fault person’s insurer will be the one to take your claim. Keep these tips in mind when speaking to insurance companies:
A lawyer can take care of insurance company communications on your behalf, making sure insurers don’t take advantage of you. Most of the time, the first settlement offer isn’t the best the company can do. Help from a lawyer could lead to significantly higher settlement amounts.
Your personal injury case might constitute grounds for a lawsuit if someone else’s negligence caused your damages. If a drunk driver crashed into you, for example, consider your legal options. A lawsuit may generate a better compensation amount than an insurance settlement, especially if your case involves catastrophic injuries or significant pain and suffering. You can file a personal injury claim with the San Jose civil courts by visiting the courthouse and following the instructions for bringing a claim against someone. An attorney can help if you aren’t sure where to start.
The deadline to file a personal injury claim in California is two years from the date of your accident. If you don’t discover your injuries until days or weeks after the accident, the clock starts ticking on the date of discovery. The statute of limitations extends to three years for claims involving property-damage only.
The California courts require four basic elements for a successful personal injury claim. The first is duty. You must prove the defendant owed you a duty of care at the time of your incident, such as a property owner’s duty to keep premises free from hazards. The second element is breach of duty. You need proof that the defendant breached, or went against, his or her duties to you. The third is causation – the defendant’s breach must be what caused your injuries. The final element is damages. You cannot file a claim unless the incident caused compensable damages. These can include medical bills and property damage.
It’s worthwhile to discuss your options with an attorney after suffering an injury in any type of accident in San Jose – especially if you suspect someone else is to blame for your incident. However, certain types of accidents lead to personal injury claims more than others. These include:
If you sustain injuries under any circumstances, contact a lawyer. Having grounds for a personal injury claim could mean someone else is legally responsible for your damages. In other words, you could qualify for total reimbursement of your financial losses.
In California, the liable party is the one most responsible for causing your accident and injuries. You must first identify the proximate, or main cause of your accident to get to the bottom of liability. From there, you can examine who failed to fulfill his or her standards of care to you in the situation.
Liable parties can range from drivers to doctors, depending on the circumstances of your case. Many cases involve more than one liable party. For example, a distracted driver and an auto parts manufacturer could share liability for car accident damages. A San Jose car accident lawyer is a great asset when trying to determine who may be liable for your damages after a collision.
Governments enjoy certain protections against lawsuits, known as “sovereign immunity.” However, the California Tort Claims Act opens the state government to liability for some personal injury accidents; namely, if a government entity or employee causes an injury through an act of negligence. You have the right to file a personal injury claim against the state or federal government if it contributed to your injuries. The deadline and rules for filing are different from typical claims.
In California, you have six months from the date of your injury (or date you discover your injury) to file a claim for personal injury against the government. You must adhere to specific procedures for these claims. Your initial claim must include your name, address, the date and circumstances of your accident, a general description of your losses, the name of the government employee you believe caused the injury, and the dollar amount you’re claiming.
It’s necessary to determine what your case is worth before you can file a personal injury claim in San Jose. You must know the value of your case, so you can file your claim with the correct courts – either the San Jose Small Claims Court or the Municipal Court. Talk to a lawyer for an accurate idea of the value of your case. Each claim is unique, and the values change depending on the specific damages the victim suffered because of the defendant’s misconduct.
To get a general idea of case value, add up your special damages first. These include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage costs. Then, calculate your general damages (pain and suffering, emotional damage, mental anguish, and other intangible losses) by multiplying your special damages by a number from one to five, based on the severity of your losses. Add special and general damages together for a total estimate.
Again, the types of damages you may be eligible to recover will vary depending on your unique losses. You will need to assess how the accident and your injuries affected you. Did they cause property damage you must now repair? Injuries that required hospital stays or extensive rehabilitation? Thousands of dollars in missed income from months of recovery? You could be eligible to recover these damages, as well as pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and loss of consortium, depending on your case.
You might need help from an attorney if your accident caused catastrophic injuries, such as disfigurement, scars, amputation, or a permanent disability. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries are examples of cases that would benefit from a lawyer’s attention. A lawyer can level the playing field between you and a large insurance company. Legal representation can also prepare you to take your case to court in pursuit of fair compensation. More minor injury claims may be easier to navigate on your own. When in doubt, talk a lawyer to see if he or she can help you.
Yes. Many personal injury attorneys will take cases at all stages of the legal process, from the investigation phase to halfway through settlement negotiations with an insurance company. Most firms can jump right into an ongoing case, come up with a strong legal strategy, and fight for better results than the client was getting on his/her own. Your lawyer may, however, charge different amounts for services depending on how much work he or she must put into the case.
Expect a warm welcome, a friendly and knowledgeable lawyer, and a team of professionals ready to listen to your story. If you get anything less, move onto a different San Jose personal injury law firm. Your initial case evaluation should focus on you – how the accident impacted you and your family, what types of injuries you suffered, and what your goals are for pursuing an injury claim.
Bring all your case documentation with you to your first meeting, such as medical records and communications between you and an insurance company. A lawyer should be able to review the elements of your case, listen to what you believe happened, and give you an idea whether you have grounds for a case. From there, if the lawyer offers to take your case, you’ll discuss details such as service fees.
Nothing, unless you win! Henshaw & Henry, PC, offers contingency-based personal injury legal services. That means you’ll only pay our fees if we win you a monetary award. We’ll agree upon a percentage of your award as compensation before you sign any contracts. We’re always upfront and honest about our services and costs. Initial consultations with our lawyers are always free. Contact us today to schedule yours!