You’ve been injured in an accident in Manhattan Beach that was due to someone else’s negligence. Your medical expenses and other bills are piling up; not only are you currently unable to work, the doctor’s prognosis says you won’t be able to work for some time. For a person in your situation, you may want to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover some of the losses you’re facing as a result of your injuries.
If you’re like a lot of people, your total exposure to the legal system has consisted of paying off a ticket for a moving or parking violation in a municipal traffic court. You feel you deserve some compensation for your pain and suffering but you’re unsure on how to proceed. At the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC, our Manhattan Beach personal injury lawyers have been protecting the rights of injured people just like you for 30 years, and we’ve found that an excellent way to alleviate people’s concerns are to sit down and explain the basic steps in a personal injury lawsuit.
Step 1: The Accident Occurs
The first step in a personal injury lawsuit is the occurrence of an accident. This could be a car crash, a slip and fall, or any other incident where you were injured due to someone else’s actions or lack thereof.
The date of the accident is important to take note of because California’s statute of limitation laws say that you only have three years from the date of your accident in which to file a personal injury lawsuit — after that, the courts cannot consider your claim (with certain exceptions).
Step 2: Get Medical Treatment/Evaluation
After the occurrence of an accident, one of the most crucial steps in a personal injury lawsuit is to prioritize your well-being and seek immediate medical treatment. Regardless of the nature of your injuries, it is essential to receive proper evaluation and care from healthcare professionals. Even though this should happen before you even file a claim, this is still one of the most important steps in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Your doctor will not only provide you with necessary treatment but also document your injuries, which is vital for your personal injury lawsuit. It may be necessary to follow up with a specialist to determine what long-term health problems, if any, you may experience as a result of your injuries.
During this step, make sure to keep a record of all medical expenses, including bills, prescription costs, and any other related expenses. These records will be valuable evidence in determining the compensation you deserve for your losses.
Step 3: Hire an Attorney
When your injuries and the financial damages you’re suffering are severe, a personal injury lawsuit may be the solution to the predicament the accident has placed you in. There are lots of personal injury attorneys in the Manhattan Beach area. Do some research to ensure you make the right selection. Many of our clients say they selected the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC because of our solid reputation for getting results.
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection to a few choices, schedule an initial consultation with each one to determine which attorney is right for you. During the consultation, ask about the attorney’s experience handling personal injury cases similar to yours. Inquire about their success rate and the amount of compensation they have obtained for their clients. It is important to choose an attorney who not only has the expertise but also understands your specific needs and concerns.
Additionally, consider the attorney’s communication style and how comfortable you feel working with them. Personal injury lawsuits can be lengthy processes, so having a good rapport with your attorney is crucial.
Step 4: We Investigate Your Claim
If we decide to accept your case, the first thing we’ll do is investigate the accident to recover the evidence needed to prove your claim. While all of the steps in a personal injury lawsuit are important, this one is particularly crucial as it sets the foundation for a successful case.
Our team of experienced investigators will gather various types of evidence to build your case. This includes:
- Reviewing any documentation related to the accident (medical records, police reports, etc.)
- Speaking to eye witnesses
- Examining the accident scene
- Seeking any expert testimony that may be helpful in your case
The more evidence we gather to support your claim, the better your chances for winning your case. Once our investigation is concluded, we’ll use this information to determine the full scope of your damages, including pain and suffering, present and future medical expenses, and loss of income.
Step 5: Filing a Complaint
Once we have gathered all the necessary evidence to support your claim, the next step in a personal injury lawsuit is filing a complaint. This is a formal legal document that outlines the details of your case and initiates the lawsuit against the responsible party.
Our team at the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC will carefully prepare and file the complaint on your behalf. It will outline the facts of the accident, the injuries you have sustained, and the damages you are seeking. This complaint will then be served to the defendant, notifying them of your intent to sue.
Filing a complaint is a critical step in a personal injury lawsuit. It officially sets the legal process in motion and notifies the responsible party that they are being sued. Our experienced team at the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC will handle this step on your behalf, ensuring that all necessary details are accurately included in the complaint.
Step 6: Negotiations with the Responsible Party
After the defendant has been served with the complaint, one of the next steps in a personal injury lawsuit is engaging in settlement negotiations with the responsible party. This stage is crucial as it allows both parties to attempt to reach a settlement before proceeding to trial.
Our skilled legal team at the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC will take charge of these negotiations on your behalf. We will carefully analyze all the evidence and damages related to your case, and use this information as leverage during discussions with the defendant’s representatives.
During negotiations, our goal is to secure a fair settlement that fully compensates you for your injuries and the damages you have suffered. We understand that the aftermath of a personal injury can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. That’s why we strive to alleviate your burden by handling all aspects of the negotiation process.
Having an experienced Manhattan Beach personal injury attorney aggressively negotiate on your behalf almost always results in a larger settlement (sometimes millions of dollars more) than an injured person would have been able to recover on their own.
Step 7: If No Settlement Is Reached, Case Goes to Trial
This is one of the possible steps in a personal injury lawsuit, but in most cases, insurance companies prefer to settle their cases out of court. However, if their final settlement offer doesn’t meet your needs, we are willing and able to take them to fight your case in court.
Submitting written questions to the defendants, hearing oral depositions, and hiring expert witnesses are just a few of the tasks we must address in preparation for the trial. It usually takes several months to prepare to go to trial.
It’s possible the judge may order the two sides into mediation before the trial.
Depending on the complexity of your case, it could take anywhere from one day to a couple of months to decide your case in a courtroom. Deliberations in a jury trial could last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Step 8: You Receive Your Compensation
After the jury decides in your favor, and the time for appeal or post-judgment moments expires, we get to one of the best steps in the personal injury lawsuit process: you receive your compensation. This generally happens within approximately 30 days.
In most cases, our clients are in no position to pay up front for the services of an experienced Manhattan Beach personal injury attorney. That’s why we handle personal injury cases on what is called a contingency basis. That means we provide our services with no up-front charges to the client, earning our fee only after we secure a settlement or jury verdict that satisfactorily compensates you for your damages.
Avoid the Wrong Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In the process of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, it is crucial to avoid certain missteps that could potentially harm your case. These missteps include:
- Giving statements without legal representation: It is best to consult with a personal injury attorney before providing any statements about the accident. Your attorney can help protect your rights and ensure that you do not say anything that could be used against you later on.
- Posting on social media: We strongly advise that during this time you do not discuss your situation with anyone, especially on social media. Insurance companies and defense attorneys often scour social media profiles looking for evidence to discredit your claims or undermine your credibility. Even innocent posts or photos can be misconstrued and used against you. It is best to refrain from posting any information related to your accident, injury, or ongoing legal proceedings until your case has been resolved.
- Settling too quickly: It can be tempting to accept a quick settlement offer, especially if you are facing mounting medical bills and other expenses. However, settling too quickly without fully understanding the extent of your injuries and the long-term impact they may have on your life can be a major mistake. DO NOT sign any kind of agreement with a representative of the party or parties that were responsible for your injuries until after you’ve spoken to an attorney.
Get Help with All the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
We hope this has answered any questions you may have about the personal litigation process in California. If you’ve been injured in an accident in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Hawthorne, Torrance or surrounding communities, take one of the most important steps in your personal injury lawsuit by calling the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC (310) 318-1220 to schedule a free consultation. We want to hear your story, answer any legal questions you may have, and talk about the best ways to move forward with your personal injury claim.