If you have been injured in an accident in Los Angeles, and there is a person or party at fault, you may be eligible for financial compensation. To recover compensation and secure your legal rights, you can file a personal injury claim. While filing such a lawsuit may seem straightforward, the facts of your case are unique, and can complicate the process. That is where an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help.
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1.Talk to a personal injury attorney
Contacting Conexion Legal for your free consultation is a great first step. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney can give you an honest, professional opinion as to whether or not you have grounds for a personal injury suit, and if so, how much compensation you could receive.
The amount of damages your claim may be worth determines your next step. Claims below $10,000 generally do not require or necessitate an attorney, and claimants can fill out the paperwork themselves, and file a suit with the Los Angeles County Small Claims Division. If the damages are over $10,000, an attorney can represent you in a lawsuit and/or insurance settlement negotiations, ensuring that you do not settle for less than you deserve.
Attorneys can also help you fill out complex paperwork and file it with the correct civil court, within California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Remember: You have a maximum of two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury claim in California.
An attorney can handle the claims filing process on your behalf.
2. Document everything
Filing a personal injury claim requires proof, so the more documentation you have of the accident, your injury and your financial losses, the better prepared you will be.
If possible, take photos of the accident scene and conditions that may have contributed — lack of caution signs, loose wiring, crumbling concrete, exposed sharp edges or rusty metal — and keep them secure. If you cannot take photographs, have a friend or family member help. In many cases, responsible parties may try to alter a scene after the fact so as to avoid judgements against them, so do this as soon as possible.
Be sure to retain records of your medical care and diagnoses, endorsed by a certified medical professional. Document medical bills and expenses related to treatment and therapy. Also document anticipated financial losses, lost wages and other future losses — i.e. the wages you are now unable to earn because your injury prevents you from returning to your previous occupation.
Future losses can include expected caregiver costs, rehabilitation costs and cost of reconstructive surgery, if necessary. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or spinal injury, you can incur significant expenses throughout the rest of your life.
You should also document the non-economic losses you sustain — referred to as pain and suffering — that should be taken into account. While emotional and psychological injuries may not leave physical scars, they can be just as damaging: If your injury causes constant pain, loss of a career, loss of the ability to enjoy life or loss of consortium with your spouse, it can lead to depression and anxiety.
Your personal injury attorney can help ensure that the claim you file contains all the proper documentation.
3. Serve the defendant
Personal injury cases can be complex. If you are injured on private property, the responsible parties can be the owner, tenant, property manager and any employee whose negligence contributed to your injury.
Injuries suffered on public property or in government buildings fall under premises liability, in which case you can sue the state, city, county or federal government, but there are different statues of limitations (in California, claims against a government agency must be filed within six months of the injury) and a burden of proof.
After filing your claim, you or a hired professional must serve the papers on the the defendant or defendants. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney will be able to help you find a local process server.
These documents give the defendant information about the claim, and informs them that you plan on pursuing compensation through a trial, if necessary. They then have the opportunity to respond to the claim, either by accepting your damages, offering a settlement or denying liability.
4. Prove your case
The burden of proof in a civil case is much lower than that of a criminal case. In a criminal case, a prosecutor must prove guilt of a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. To win a personal injury lawsuit in civil court, you must prove the defendant’s fault through a preponderance of evidence, which means that, based on the evidence, the defendant is more likely to be at fault than not at fault.
Photographs of the scene, witness statements, medical records, maintenance records, security camera footage and legal records (does the responsible property owner have a history of negligence?) can all help prove your case. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help you acquire and assemble that kind of documentation.
Contact Conexion Legal today by calling us at 1-800-201-1220, or write to us through WhatsApp, where we can schedule your free legal consultation, and connect you to an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney in our network.