Things to Know in Personal Injury Cases (in no Particular Order)
Review the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a time limit that usually begins at the date of injury; but alternatively, the time limit may vary, depending on circumstances. For example, according to the Judicial Branch of California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years; however, it can be as short as 6 months or might be extended, depending on the facts and issues in the case. Personal injury lawyers in California can help injured victims understand whether or not a potential lawsuit is within the applicable statute of limitations.
Who to Sue
One must determine who/which negligent party to sue. In the case of a car accident, this might be a driver who commits a wide range of negligence:
- Drunk/intoxicated driving
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Street racing
- Using a cell phone
A personal injury lawyer will work to determine who was at fault for the accident. This may require investigation and legal research. California state follows a pure comparative negligence system when it comes to car accidents. This means that, if someone else was at least 1% negligent, the injured party may seek compensation.
Find the Correct Jurisdiction
Plaintiffs must file their lawsuits in the correct jurisdiction. Options may include:
- Filing the lawsuit in the jurisdiction the accident occurred
- Filing the lawsuit in the jurisdiction the defendant lives
- Filing the lawsuit in the jurisdiction a negligent company is headquartered
This may include deciding whether to file in Federal or State Court.
Before negotiating for a fair settlement, plaintiffs must understand their total damages. This provides injured victims with a sense of how much money they should be pursuing. Damages may be either economic or non-economic. They can include past and future medical expense, past and future lost earnings and earning capacity and general damages. Sometimes punitive (punishment) damages may be involved.
Collecting evidence that establishes negligence should be done from the time of the accident. Immediately gathering information and evidence may be absolutely essential to the claim. There are four elements of negligence that plaintiffs must establish:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Your evidence should support these four elements. Failure of any means failure of the claim.
Courtroom Strategies When Representing Yourself
If self-represented plaintiffs find themselves approaching a trial, various strategies may be effective:
Follow the Judge’s Guidance
Judges may provide self-represented plaintiffs with guidance during their trials. Plaintiffs should listen carefully and ask questions if they do not understand the process. That being said, judges do not offer any legal advice.
Conduct Proper Legal Research
Personal injury lawyers such as Heiting & Irwin conduct extensive legal research before trials. Self-represented plaintiffs must carry out this research alone. This might include researching past cases, searching for precedents, and gaining an understanding of the specific legislation that applies to the case at hand.
Watch Real Trials to Understand the Process
Self-represented plaintiffs may also wish to watch real trials in process, as they can provide plaintiffs with a sense of what to expect.
Follow the Rules of the Court
Trials follow strict rules. Self-represented plaintiffs must familiarize themselves with these rules before moving forward. A minor infraction can cause judges to throw out evidence, reject witnesses, or even dismiss cases entirely. Even lawyers have problems getting to know and follow local rules sometimes.
Learn More About Personal Injury Lawsuits Today
As an alternative to representing yourself, do not hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys with Heiting & Irwin at 951-682-6400. During an initial consultation, these California injury lawyers can provide targeted advice before any hasty decisions. Consultations are free, and no payment is necessary until plaintiffs win their cases. Reach out today to get started.