In every California personal injury case, there will be a point in time when the law will prohibit you from pursuing your claim against the person or company who allegedly caused your injuries. The law that terminates liability against a defendant is called the statute of limitations. There is a two-year statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Califonia.
Whether you've been injured in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or some other type of negligence-related accident, the way to protect the statute of limitations is to either:
- Settle your claim with the person who caused your injuries, or that person’s insurance carrier prior to the expiration of the applicable limitations period; or,
- File a lawsuit against the defendant in the appropriate court before the expiration of the relevant statute of limitation.
Settling Your Personal Injury Claim in California
To avoid having your claim barred by the statute of limitations, you should attempt to settle your case with the person or company that caused your injuries before the expiration of the limitations period. If you are able to reach an agreement on a settlement amount, you can then sign a release that will state that you are satisfied with the amount of the settlement and agree to not pursue any further legal action against the defendant.
Factors to consider when determining if you should settle your case include:
- How serious are your injuries?
- How much medical treatment have you required as a result of your injuries?
- Have you been able to return to work? If not, how long do you anticipate being off work?
- Will your injuries have a lasting effect on your life?
- How strong is your case against the defendant?
- Are there any potential defenses that the defendant could raise that may weaken your case?
- How much time remains before the expiration of the statute of limitations?
- Is the insurance company for the person who caused your injuries likely to be able to pay a fair settlement?
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the person who caused your injuries, or that person’s insurance company, on a settlement amount, then you will need to file a lawsuit in court before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Once you have filed a lawsuit, the court will then have jurisdiction over the case and can order the defendant to pay you damages if it finds in your favor.
Taking your case to court can be a good idea when:
- The other side is not offering you a fair settlement.
- You have a strong case and are confident that you will win at trial.
- The amount of damages you are seeking is high and it is worth the time and expense to take your case to court to get the full amount of compensation you deserve.
- The other side is trying to delay settlement negotiations in the hope that the statute of limitations will expire and you will be barred from taking any legal action.
How a California Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
You are not required to have a personal injury lawyer to settle your case or file a lawsuit. However, there are several reasons why hiring a lawyer is beneficial. For example:
- A lawyer can gather all relevant evidence. In order to prove your case, you will need to present evidence of the injuries you suffered, how they were caused by the defendant’s actions, and the damages you have incurred. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to obtain this evidence and can help you build a strong case.
- A lawyer can help you determine the amount of damages you are entitled to. This includes not only medical expenses and lost wages, but also pain and suffering, mental anguish, and property damage.
- A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They can also litigate your case if the insurance company won't be reasonable.
- Hiring a lawyer shows the insurance company that you are serious about your case and are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to get the compensation you deserve.
- Your lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes that can hurt your personal injury claim.
Schedule a Consultation With a California Personal Injury Attorney Today
Having an attorney who will focus on your interests is vital to securing the maximum compensation in a personal injury case in California. Complete our online contact form or call us today at 909-481-0100 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation.