Personal injuries due to accidents and medical emergencies can happen at any time in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
In 2019, there were over 3,450 motor-vehicle related accidents in California. Additionally, the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that over 26% of the total real property, contract, and court trials are related to personal injuries. They were further subdivided into:
- 5% due to product liability.
- 15% due to medical malpractice.
- 52% due to motor vehicle accidents.
Suppose you have been in an accident due to someone’s negligence. In that case, you need a personal injury lawyer to handle the investigation of your claim. Most people think the lawyers help you get the compensation you deserve; however, they do a lot more. Your personal injury attorney will handle all matters related to the investigation, collecting evidence, and holding dispositions.
Hiring a personal injuries lawyer allows you to focus on recovery, knowing all your legal matters are being well taken care of. In this blog, we will take a more in-depth look at what kinds of investigations personal injury lawyers do. Towards the end, we will also answer some of the most asked questions regarding personal injury cases, so you know what to expect. But before that, let’s discuss the basics.
What are Personal Injury Cases?
Personal injury cases are filed when you get severely injured due to other people’s negligent actions. This can be anything, including:
- Impaired driving accidents
- Negligent security
- Slip and fall cases
- Animal bites
- Injuries due to faulty products
- Medical malpractices
- Nursing home abuse
Various Forms of Compensation for Personal Injuries
If you’ve suffered from a personal injury due to the abovementioned occurrences, here are some types of compensation you can expect to receive.
- Medical expenses coverage.
- The payout for loss of income or earning capacity.
- Therapy charges for emotional distress.
What is Claims Investigation?
Before diving into the technicalities, we need to understand what a claims investigation is.
The person you file your personal injury case against (the defender) or the insurance company will likely hire a claims investigator to determine if the facts match up. The investigator does their research through several means to determine the validity of the claim. In California, investigators get a maximum of 10 days to rule out possibilities of your claim being fraudulent and give the green signal for further processing.
What Kinds of Investigation Will Your Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Now that we’ve taken a look at personal injury claims and their compensation let’s get to the actual matter at hand. Why should you employ a personal injury lawyer? What exactly do they do that you can’t handle yourself?
The first thing to remember is when you’re hurt, your primary focus needs to be on your medical treatment for quick recovery. Your personal injury lawyer will be your most significant support under such circumstances. They will act as a barrier between you and anybody who could risk hindering your recovery.
So, as you concentrate on treatments, medication, surgical interventions, and the entire hospital journey, your attorney will do their best to protect your legal rights.
Here is a detailed description of what your personal injury lawyer can do.
1. Investigating the Possible Claims
Personal injury lawyers in California generally work on a contingency basis. This means that they will only charge you once they secure a solid case and get you a settlement or jury verdict. The contingency requires them to self-finance most of the cases, so they take great care in investigating all the possible
2. Case Investigation and Discovery
One of the most critical parts of preparing for a settlement or a court trial is to gather evidence. Your personal injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation and collect all the evidence available to strengthen your case.
The investigation and discovery process requires them to interview witnesses, obtain CCTV footage, collect medical and police reports, and document anything that could serve as proof in court. All of this evidence will determine the cause of the accident and the severity of damages caused.
3. Negotiate with Insurance Agencies
Negotiations are tough. Ask any lawyer, and they’ll tell you how negotiations are among the most challenging part of any legal case. Luckily, you won’t need to manage them yourself. Your personal injury lawyer will handle all negotiations with insurance companies!
The attorney will go over the fine print of your insurance policy and figure out the maximum compensation you’re liable for. They will then reach out to the insurance firm, arrange a meeting and take care of all communications with them. A lawyer not only makes things less stressful for you but also keep you from jeopardizing your case.
4. Placing All Parties on Notice
We previously mentioned how personal injury lawyers act as a barrier between you and the legal world. They do so by redirecting all the involved parties to their office, acting as your representative. The attorney must inform all legal and insurance entities that future contact must be made through them.
This way, they get firsthand knowledge of the case’s progression, and nobody can sneak anything past them or try to misguide you. Moreover, it also makes it easier to keep track of all the documentation, medical records, insurance communication, and your claim’s general status.
5. Handling Defective Products
Suppose you were injured due to a defective product. In that case, your lawyer should advise you regarding the importance of that product as crucial evidence. If you still have it, they will ask you to relinquish it only to their law firm. They will then either store it to be used as evidence or send it for lab testing immediately.
A significant benefit of having a personal injury lawyer is arranging for the defective product to be tested without damages. Defendants and manufacturers are known to conduct destructive testing to get rid of the evidence against them. Your lawyer will make sure that doesn’t happen!
6. Analysis of Potential Legalities
Once your lawyer has collected sufficient evidence and information regarding the injury claim, they will start a comprehensive liability analysis. They’ll review the California case laws, common laws, applicable statutes, and any legal precedents during this.
All of this information is carefully compiled to build your case and ensure you have a valid rationale to pursue the claim.
7. Getting Expert Medical Evaluation
Your personal injury attorney will discuss your case with all medical staff and doctors who tend to your wounds. They will further seek out medical experts and request in-depth medical reports to support your injury claim.
Also, suppose you suffer from a complex injury with a complicated diagnosis and treatment process. In that case, your attorney will hire experts to predict impairments and any restrictions you may face.
8. Filing Lawsuits
Once all the investigation is completed and evidence has been gathered, your lawyer will start the second phase of their representation. They will go over legal theories, possible allegations, and damage reports to file a successful lawsuit.
Suppose the defendants or insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement. In that case, your lawyer will prepare a complaint against them. They will set out several legal arguments as to why the defendant should be held responsible. This is called a pleading, and the defendant will have 30 days to serve a reply.
If your case proceeds to trial, your personal injury lawyer will represent you in court. Since they are familiar with the procedure, you can rest assured your injury claims are in the best possible hands.
The Litigation Process
Your personal injury lawyer will start the litigation process by filing a complaint. This complaint is a legal document that contains all your arguments, evidence, and facts that support those arguments and your relief demands.
Once the complaint is filed and served to the defendant (the person you’re sueing for the injuries), they will likely file a response. Then, the discovery process will begin.
At this stage, both the conflicting sides exchange evidence that can be presented on trial. Most discovery sessions will include your personal injury lawyer holding depositions, interrogations, and requests for particular documents. This process can take several months to complete.
Once you’re past discovery, the trial is all set to take place. Your lawyer will file several pre-trial motions to counter the defendant. They will do their best to settle before the trial, so there is no need to take things to court. Your personal injury lawyer will handle all parts of the litigation process themselves to ensure everything is streamlined and you’re updated on the progress of the case.
After Winning the Case
Whether you win your case in trial or opt for a settlement, your personal injury lawyer still has some work to do. They will make all the required arrangements to collect your due money from the defendant. This step involves reaching out to the defendant’s insurance company and having them send a check over.
It could also include filing further motions to collect the judgment.
Usually, you will be asked to sign a settlement form that proves that you agree to end the lawsuit after receiving compensation. The personal injury attorney will manage the paperwork and filing, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Frequently Asked Questions
People seem to have a lot of confusion and doubts about personal injury cases and lawyers. We tried clearing them out below so you can rest easy, knowing your case is in the best hands.
What is the Average Payout for a Personal Injury Claim?
The payout depends on the severity of the injuries as well as how strong your evidence is. The confidence and expertise of your personal injury lawyer can also play a significant role in your total payout.
On the lower end, personal injury cases often settle for a few thousand dollars. However, the amount can go up to $52,000 to $75,000 and higher
How Long Does the Injury Claim Take?
Personal injury cases don’t follow a particular timeline, as every case is unique. It is nearly difficult to predict how long the case will take until you reach the end and receive a settlement. Much depends on your injuries and whether they have healed.
That being said, most personal injury cases in California are usually settled between 4 months to a year. Some can drag on for over two years, though.
Can Insurance Investigators Tap Your Phone?
This is a common fear among a lot of people. Whether your or the defendant’s insurance company hires a private investigator or not, they are not allowed to do anything illegal. That includes:
- Taping your phone.
- Recording private conversations.
- Trespassing on your property.
- Entering your home without consent.
- Hacking your email and text messages.
- Installing tracking devices on your car.
- Impersonating law enforcement officers.
So, while the insurance investigators might conduct general surveillance after your deposition, they most definitely can’t tap your phone. If you suspect the investigator is doing anything illegal, reach out to your personal injury attorney immediately.
The Bottom Line
Suppose you’ve been in an accident or suffered an injury caused by someone else. In that case, it’s always best to have an expert personal lawyer by your side. They can help you decide whether you should appeal your injury claim and advise you along the way.
Moreover, they will level the playing field as your defendant is also likely to employ an attorney’s services. Having a personal injury lawyer will ensure you aren’t blindsided in any way and get the settlement you deserve as a result of the injury endured. The injury attorney will use all of their resources, including private investigators and expert witnesses, to strengthen your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
Are you looking for a personal injury lawyer in San Francisco, California? Reach out to us here at Phoong Law! We offer free evaluation and a Zero Fee Warranty unless we win!