If you are the victim of a personal injury, California law recognizes your right to pursue compensation from an at-fault party. To do this, you must know who caused the injury, what they did wrong, and what practical and administrative hurdles you need to meet to pursue your claim. A key requirement is to file your insurance claim or lawsuit within the statute of limitations and meet other applicable deadlines.
Hobbs Law Group is here to help you fight for full compensation for your losses. This may be your first serious accident, but it is not ours; we understand the process and will advocate for you—every step of the way.
What to do first after a personal injury
You need to take care of yourself first and foremost.
Get medical treatment as soon as possible. If you have a serious injury, go to an emergency room. If you had an accident and are not sure how seriously you are injured, see a doctor within a day or two for evaluation. Some injuries worsen over time, but early detection and treatment can improve the outcome.
Document every step of the way. Take photos of what caused the accident and of your injuries. Keep notes of medical visits– and save all paperwork and bills. You will need these for an insurance claim or lawsuit. Keep them organized and provide copies to your personal injury lawyer.
Understand the statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is a deadline to file a lawsuit. If you do not file your lawsuit by the time the statute of limitations expires, you lose the right to pursue your claim. This applies to more than just lawsuits, though. If the deadline for filing a lawsuit expires, insurance companies usually have no obligation to pay your claim, either. Since most California insurance is based on fault, insurance companies do not cover claims where their policyholders cannot be sued.
The general statute of limitations for personal injury in California is found at California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, which states that lawsuits must be filed within two years after the injury occurred. However, some factors can shorten or lengthen the limitations period. For example, if the injury was not discovered immediately or the victim was a minor– it may be longer. When the defendant is a government entity like a city or the state, it is usually much shorter and includes tricky pre-filing notice requirements.
Know who your claim is against
Since lawsuits and insurance claims usually require evidence of negligence by the defendant, you need to know who may be liable. This can be more complex than it first appears. For example, if you are injured in a car accident, it may seem obvious to sue the driver. But you may also need to sue the car’s owner, the driver’s employer, or possibly even a mechanic who repaired the vehicle or the manufacturer of an auto part.
If you do not include all of the potentially liable individuals and businesses, it may slow down your case—and it can also allow the defendant to deny liability by blaming an empty chair. The empty seat where another liable party would have been sitting if they had been properly included.
Your attorney will examine the facts surrounding your injury and explore potentially liable parties. They may even use the discovery process to find more parties and amend the court papers to include them as defendants.
Know what the defendant did wrong
Since most personal injury cases in California are based on negligence, you will need to prove that the defendant was obligated to do something– or refrain from doing it– and that this breach of duty caused the accident.
Proving negligence can require detailed knowledge of specialty areas. Your attorney may retain experts who can explain to a jury what the defendant’s obligation was and how their breach caused your injury. Your lawyer may also file motions and briefs based on statutes and cases that spell out these kinds of obligations.
Pointing to a specific duty and breach is critical. If you cannot clear this hurdle, your case will likely be dismissed.
Talk to an experienced attorney
At Hobbs Law Group, we take a team approach to winning cases. We have in-depth experience in fighting for our clients’ rights, and we rely on the expertise of the professionals needed to prove their claims. There is no time to delay, so our attorneys are here for you day and night. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.