When my office speaks with a potential new client, we explain the process and the steps that come after signing up with us in a typical personal injury case in California, whether it’s a car accident, a slip and fall, dog bite, burn injury, or another type of injury case.
These are steps that generally follow an accident where someone has suffered a physical injury and/or emotional trauma caused by a car or truck accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or burn injury.
1. Retaining a Personal Injury Lawyer aka Accident Attorney
If you are injured, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling the type of accident or injury you have suffered. I am entering my 28th year as an attorney and have exclusively worked on personal injury cases.
So, when we get a potential new client, we have the experience and knowledge to discuss:
- The liability aspect of the case, i.e. who is at fault;
- Your injuries – what is the best way to go about treating your injuries;
- Your losses, including loss of income and out-of-pocket expenses;
- Maximizing your recovery;
- Protecting you from adjuster calls and making mistakes on online and social media platforms;
- How to go about gathering evidence to present your claim;
- How and when to present your demand package;
- The negotiation process; and
- The possibility of filing a lawsuit.
At no time during our relationship with you, as our client, will we ever charge you any fees because we work on a contingency basis. This means that we only get paid if there is a settlement or this case goes to trial and we obtain a verdict/judgment against the at-fault party.
2. Starting Your Injury Claim
If an injury claim has not been opened since the accident, we will open an injury claim with the appropriate insurance company, i.e. with the at-fault party’s insurer, or if that person is uninsured, with your insurer.
For a slip and fall incident, we will open the claim with the risk management department, and for a dog bite, we will proceed with the homeowner’s insurer.
Once the claim is opened, all communication will go through our office. This will give you the peace of mind you deserve because you don’t have to deal with an insurance adjuster.
3. Gathering Evidence in Preparation of Settlement Demand and Negotiations
The next step would be gathering the evidence to present your case. This includes obtaining a copy of the Traffic Collision Report, if the case involves a vehicle accident and law enforcement prepared a report.
Other evidence includes photographs:
- If the case involves an accident, photographs would be of the cars involved in the accident, photographs of the accident scene, and photographs of any visible injuries.
- If the case involves a slip and fall or trip and fall, photographs would be of the location/scene, and photographs of any visible injuries.
Other evidence includes gathering your medical records and bills from the various providers, and gathering evidence of your loss of income if one exists.
It is crucial to note that we cannot present a full demand to the adjuster and start the negotiation process without you finishing your treatment.
During the evidence-gathering process, we communicate with you to ensure you receive the proper medical care.
4. Negotiations – Pre-Litigation, i.e. Before A Lawsuit Is Filed
It is always to our clients’ benefit that we attempt to resolve any case before delving into a long and expensive lawsuit. Resolving a case without a lawsuit saves you time and money.
First, it would be much faster. Second, we would not incur costs, such as court filing fees and process server fees, which ultimately come from your share of any settlement, verdict, or judgment. Third, you would not be subjected to a deposition, a defense medical examination, and having to respond to written discovery, which is both time-consuming and stressful.
Once negotiations begin, we communicate with you, advising you of the next step.
If negotiations are successful and you are satisfied with the insurance company’s final offer, then we settle the case. However, if negotiations are unsuccessful, we take the next step and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties with your permission.
5. Litigation – Continued Negotiations
Litigation means a lawsuit has been filed with the Court and served on the at-fault party. After a lawsuit has been filed, the Court will provide the parties with a trial date, based on the Court’s calendar. Trial dates are typically more than 18 months after a lawsuit has been filed.
Now, does this mean that the case will automatically go to trial? How does the trial date affect the case? Can the case be resolved without going to trial?
A trial date gives the parties a timeframe. By giving a trial date, the Court basically tells the parties, “you have until the trial date to resolve this matter, and if you can’t resolve it, then this case will go to trial.”
Only about 2% of cases end up going to trial. So, chances are your case will settle before trial once a lawsuit has been filed because the parties keep negotiating.
What does a lawsuit entail? Once a lawsuit has been filed and answered, the parties engage in written discovery and depositions. As the case progresses, experts may be retained and the defense may have you (the Plaintiff) examined by a doctor of their choosing.
Throughout the litigation process, our office will get this case set up for trial. However, that does not mean that the matter will end up in trial because the parties will continue negotiations to resolve the matter short of trial.
Throughout the litigation process, we continue communicating with you and responding to your various questions and concerns.
6. Type of Cases We Handle
We handle all matters involving personal injury throughout the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, and Kern, many of which occur in Santa Clarita Valley and San Fernando Valley.
Please contact us if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident or other personal injury matter, regardless of whether the accident occurred in the Santa Clarita Valley, the San Fernando Valley, or anywhere else in Los Angeles county and its surrounding areas.
We will review the process with you and respond to your inquiries and concerns. Cases that we handle include:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Bus accidents;
- Slip and fall, and trip and fall cases;
- Dog bites;
- Construction site accident;
- Burn injuries;
- Wrongful death cases; and
- Nursing home and elder abuse cases.
We can be reached at The Mason Law Firm: (661) 476-5678 or (855) MASONLAW