Will Your Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

Will Your Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

When we meet personal injury victims for the first time, they often ask about their case going to trial. They imagine hours on the witness stand, being grilled by a defense attorney. It sounds stressful, especially when you are healing from injuries.

The reality is that most personal injury cases don’t go to trial. Most personal injury claims are resolved with a settlement and compensation for the victim. 

Some circumstances make it more likely that your case will be in the small percentage of cases that are resolved in court. However, there are things that you can do to help avoid a trial.

Talk to a lawyer

LA Century Law is a premier personal injury law firm, with millions recovered for our clients. Are you wondering about your personal injury claim going to court? Contact us to ask an injury lawyer in Century City.

Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

Only a small percentage of personal injury cases go to trial. A case is more likely to go to trial if there are contested legal or factual issues that may significantly alter the outcome of a case. In addition, sometimes, a party simply wants to exercise their right to a trial.

Most Personal Injury Cases Don’t Go to Trial

If you’re worried about your personal injury case going to trial, remember that it’s rare. The legal process is meant to resolve disputes – whether it is by trial, settlement, or summary disposition.

Only a small percentage of the injury claims filed each year are resolved by trial.

Since each case is decided on its merits, there could be a trial in any personal injury case. But statistically, it’s unlikely.

Factors that Make a Personal Injury Case More Likely to Go to Trial

While no one thing guarantees a case will go to trial, some factors make it more likely.

These include:

Factual disputes

For example, one witness may say that the traffic light was green. Another witness may say that the light was red.

Who the jury believes may determine whether the plaintiff gets full compensation or no compensation at all. If factual disagreements create a large range of potential outcomes at trial, either party may be more likely to gamble going to trial to reach the desired outcome.

Legal issues

Just as key facts can determine the outcome of a case, legal disputes can be determinative, too. There may be a novel question of how the law applies to a particular situation. There may be a development in the law that may alter the outcome of a case. Sometimes, these issues are ruled on in preliminary hearings, but they may push a case toward trial.

Severe injuries

If a victim suffers a catastrophic injury, they deserve fair compensation. When a claim is for a large amount, the defense may try especially hard to fight the claim, including through trial.

Pre-existing injuries

Most of us have some medical history. Pre-existing injuries don’t automatically prevent you from receiving compensation. However, they may create a question of damages that makes a trial more likely.

Future injuries

It’s common for a victim’s healing to continue beyond the resolution of an injury case. Future injuries can be uncertain, prompting a trial.

The choice to go to trial

Either party may exercise their right to a trial.

Are Hearings and Trials the Same Thing?

Hearings and trials are not the same thing. Your case may have preliminary court hearings, including status conferences and motion hearings. These hearings are not your trial. These preliminary hearings can resolve critical issues, helping you settle your case.

Can trial be avoided?

As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you have choices. Most of the time, trials can be avoided. However, that may mean accepting a very low settlement – one that is lower than you would likely receive if you took your case to trial.

Avoiding a trial may mean leaving money on the table. When you’re a personal injury victim, you deserve fair compensation for your losses and suffering. At LA Century Law, we’re prepared to fight for every dollar that you deserve.

You Must Pursue Your Case Aggressively

Even if you’re hoping to avoid trial, it’s critical to pursue your case aggressively, as though you are going to court. It’s the process of thoroughly and aggressively preparing the case that may enable you to reach a fair settlement.

Building your case narrows the issues at hand. If the defense knows that you’re ready to present your case at trial, they’re more likely to offer a fair settlement.

In addition, there are times that the defense simply refuses to settle – even when you have a great case. If your case lands in that unlikely scenario, you must be prepared to present your claim effectively at trial. If you’re not prepared, you may jeopardize even a strong case.

Get a Personalized Consultation With Our Injury Lawyers

Whether you want your personal injury case to go to trial, or you hope to pursue a settlement, LA Century Law will fight for you, aggressively and strategically. Contact us at LA Century Law online or call our offices to discuss the specifics of your case.

California’s Common Carrier Law

California’s Common Carrier Law

When you get on a bus, ride a train or hire a private driver, you put your trust in the transportation company. You have no way to know if they put safety first. You must rely on them and their promises to keep you safe.

California law recognizes this reality. California law holds transportation companies to a higher standard when it comes to safety. The law applies to common carriers – public or private – that transport passengers for a fee and offer their services to the public.

If you’re hurt while using common carrier transportation, common carrier law in California may impact your claim. The Century City personal injury attorneys at LA Century Law explain what you need to know about the California common carrier law.

What to Know About California’s Common Carrier Law

  • Transportation companies classified as common carriers are held to a higher legal standard regarding their duty of care.
  • Common carriers must exercise the utmost care and vigilance for the people they transport.
  • The standard of utmost care that applies to common carriers is higher than the standard of reasonable care that applies to others in other negligence claims.
  • A common carrier is not an insurer. Liability is not strict.
  • Common carriers must provide safe vehicles. (Cal Civ. Code § 2101).
  • Additional duties apply when a passenger is disabled, ill or a minor. The carrier must show regard for the person’s needs and use the highest care for their safety. (Cal. Civ. Code § 2103).
  • If an injury occurs, you may apply the elevated standard of care to evaluate the actions of the common carrier and prove your right to compensation.

What is the California common carrier law?

California Civil Code § 2100 is the California common carrier law. The law says that a carrier of persons for reward must use utmost care and diligence for safe carriage. They must provide everything necessary for safe carriage and exercise reasonable skill.

In addition, California Civil Code § 2102 prohibits a common carrier from overcrowding or overloading their vehicle.

What Are Common Carriers?

A common carrier is a company or party engaged in transporting persons or property for hire, who offers their services indiscriminately to the public.

Examples of common carriers are:

  • Airlines
  • Taxis
  • Buses
  • Trains (commuter trains and metro systems)
  • Cruise ships
  • Ferries
  • Trollies
  • Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare

A common carrier may be publicly or privately owned. If they accept a fee and generally accept any person wishing to travel, the elevated duty of care applies.

Common Carriers and the Elevated Duty of Care

The common carrier elevated duty of care means:

  • A common carrier must carry passengers or property safely.
  • The standard is the highest care and vigilance of a very cautious person.
  • A carrier must do all that they reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to persons or property, exercising foresight.
  • Duty required of the common carrier accounts for the nature of the transportation and the practical operation of the business.
  • Elevated duty doesn’t apply as it relates to ordinary and incidental dangers that a person might encounter in a station or terminal. Churchman v. Bay Area Rapid Transit Dist., 39 Cal.App.5th 246, 251 (2019).
  • Common carrier standards apply to those accepting a fee for services. It doesn’t apply to gratuitous services.
  • Duties include keeping up on advancements and updates in safety trends for the mode of transportation involved.
  • Liability may attach where the carrier fails to prevent or reduce harm from other passengers, including assault.

Even the slightest negligence makes a common carrier liable for causing an injury. For a victim, this means proving that the carrier was negligent in any manner, rather than showing negligence based on a reasonable person standard. Acosta v. Southern California Rapid Transit Dist., 2 Cal.3d 19, 27 (1970).

See California Civil Jury Instructions, 902

Common Carrier Law and the Impact on Accident Cases

It’s a privilege to serve the public as a common carrier. (Squaw Valley Ski Corp. v. Superior Court (Bowles), 2 Cal.App.4th 1499 (1992)). Because common carriers are not blanket insurers in all situations, the claimant must still prove some level of negligence. Huang v. The Bicycle Casino Inc., 4 Cal. App.5th 329, 338 (2016).

For the victim, the common carrier law may make it easier to prove the liability of the defendant and the right to compensation. You must prove that their negligence was the cause of your damages and the amount of compensation you deserve. It is important to cite liability under common carrier law and ask for the appropriate jury instructions.

The California Tort Claims Act may apply

Remember that California has a Tort Claims Act to address negligent acts and omissions of government units. Many common carriers are publicly owned and operated. The California Tort Claims Act may apply, creating a short window to present a notice of claim. While similar laws in many states limit government liability, California doesn’t limit damages except that punitive damages are not available.

Get Legal Help

If you are hurt in an accident, the California common carrier law may impact your claim. As your attorneys, LA Century Law investigates whether the defendant qualifies as a common carrier.

We identify the legal standards and take the needed steps to make your claim.

LA Century Law is a recognized leader in personal injury litigation, having collected millions in compensation for our clients. To discuss your case and begin today with an injury lawyer, call or message us online now.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in California?

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in California?

Money is an immediate concern in every personal injury case. You are likely dealing with the effects of the accident, both emotionally and financially. You could also miss work, with money already coming out of your limited funds. You could be entitled to financial compensation as a result of your accident, although it may take some time. Contact the San Bernardino injury attorneys at LA Century Law to learn more about your legal rights and the possible timing of your car accident settlement.

Deadlines for the Insurance Company to Respond to Your Claim

California law imposes certain deadlines on the insurance company when they are processing and responding to a claim. Insurance companies have been known to find any way to delay your claim to make you more desperate to settle. Here are the relevant insurance company timetables deadlines in California:

  • An insurance company has 15 days to issue a response from the time that they receive your claim. This response is just an acknowledgment and not a decision.
  • The insurance company has 40 days to decide whether to accept or reject a claim.
  • The insurance company can also request an extension if they need more time to process a claim, reporting back to you every 30 days about the status.
  • Insurance companies have 85 days to settle a claim after it has been filed. This does not automatically mean that they will pay you everything that you deserve because you asked for it.

Not only is the insurance company bound by California law, but it must also follow the principles of good faith. If the insurance company unreasonably delays a claim, they can be sued for bad faith.

Your Car Accident Case Can Take Far Longer than Required Timeframes

The reality is that your case will take much longer than the timelines prescribed by California law. The big delay in the process will be the time that it takes to settle the claim. The insurance company is only obligated to make an initial settlement offer within the required timeframe.

Chances are that the offer is going to be very low, and you will have to negotiate with the insurance company.

Negotiations with the insurance company can be painstaking and slow. The insurance company may take its time responding to your counterproposals after you have rejected their low settlement offers. It is not uncommon for the claims process alone to take a year or more in more complex cases with higher damages.

The Timing of Your Court Case May Depend on Several Factors

If your case goes to court, it is hard to give an exact estimate of the time that your case will take.

The exact timing depends on a combination of rules and the court’s docket. If your case goes all the way through to a trial, you should not expect it to be concluded within nine months. Usually, personal injury lawsuits take longer.

Before your case is resolved, you will need to go through the following steps:

  • Opening the lawsuit process by filing a complaint with the court and waiting for the other party to file their answer
  • Defending against any motions to dismiss that the defendant has filed
  • Gathering evidence from the defendant (and them seeking it from you) in the discovery process
  • Arguing your case to the jury, using your evidence to prove your case
  • Defending against an appeal after you win your case

The lawsuit process does not move quickly, and there is little that you can do on your own to make things proceed more quickly.

Factors That Impact the Timing of Your Case

Certain factors could control how long your personal injury case may take, including:

  • The complexity of the facts at issue
  • The amount of time that the court allocates to discovery
  • The court’s docket and when it schedules the case
  • Whether the defendant files an appeal if and when they lose the case

In most cases, there is very little that you can do to control the timing of your personal injury case. You must be prepared to hold out and fight for as long as it takes to get the money that you deserve. You should never be in a rush to conclude your personal injury case, even if it seems like it is difficult for you to hold out financially. The insurance company wants you to be in a position where you feel like you have to take what they are offering. Your patience can turn the tables on them.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in San Bernardino Today

To learn more about how long your settlement may take and the time limit to file a personal injury claim, contact an attorney at LA Century Law today. Although many factors are outside your control, we will do everything we can to keep the pressure on the insurance company to address your claim in a timely fashion. Call us today or send us a message online to discuss your case. You pay us nothing unless we win.

What Are a Personal Injury Lawyer's Fees in California?

What Are a Personal Injury Lawyer’s Fees in California?

Personal injury cases encompass everything from car collisions and slip and fall injuries to product liability and medical malpractice. The cost of building these cases can vary significantly.

Still, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis to allow the injured and their families to recover damages without increasing their financial stress. The San Bernardino personal injury lawyers at LA Century Law can help you understand how attorney fees apply to your case.

How Do Personal Injury Lawyer Fees in California Work?

Operating on a contingency fee basis means that instead of charging clients an hourly fee, lawyers take a percentage of any personal injury settlement or award their client receives. The fee compensates them for their time, expertise and costs incurred during the legal process.

The specific percentage that lawyers take for personal injury cases varies but averages between 33% and 40% in most personal injury cases in California. For example, if a client receives a settlement of $100,000, the lawyer’s fee, at 33%, would be $33,000. The remaining $67,000 goes to the client.

Several factors can influence the exact percentage. The complexity of the case, the potential risk involved and the stage at which the case resolves can all impact the fee. Some lawyers charge a sliding scale fee, where the percentage might be lower if the case settles early and higher if it proceeds to trial. Note that most personal injury claims are settled without going to trial.

Clients need to understand the fee arrangement before hiring a lawyer. This ensures transparency and avoids any surprises later on. Furthermore, if your attorney is unable to win a settlement or award, you typically owe nothing.

What Do the Fees of a Personal Injury Case Cover?

The fees from a personal injury case compensate the attorney for a range of services and expenditures associated with championing your claim. This includes the attorney’s legal expertise and experience, which are paramount for understanding the nuances of the laws governing your specific type of claim and adeptly navigating the legal system. The fees also address the investigative efforts essential for building a solid case. This can encompass everything from gathering evidence to hiring expert witnesses and conducting detailed depositions.

These personal injury lawyer fees in California also incorporate the administrative and operational costs intrinsic to any legal practice. This covers office overhead costs, staff salaries and other routine expenses that arise during representation. It also considers court-related expenses. Filing lawsuits, making court appearances and other related fees are all part of the legal journey.

Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney? The severity of your injuries, the nature of your claim and the evidence available in your case will all impact the cost of damages and value of your claim. Cases with substantial evidence and clear fault determination typically take less time and resources to conclude, but having an attorney ensures you adequately value your losses.

How can you afford a personal injury attorney?

Affording a personal injury attorney is often more accessible than many realize. Your attorney will tell you upfront if you have a strong case for compensation. The contingency fee arrangement allows clients to obtain legal representation without immediate financial burden. If the attorney does not win the case, the client can typically walk away without a heavy financial burden, and most personal injury attorneys will not take a case without confidence that they can win.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you would likely benefit from hiring an attorney to handle your claim. Personal injury lawyer fees may make you hesitate, but these professionals can often recover significantly larger settlements than you could on your own.

Consider the ways a lawyer will contribute to your case:

  • They understand the intricacies of the legal system and can navigate the complexities of your claim more efficiently.
  • An attorney can assess the full extent of damages, ensuring you do not settle for less than you deserve.
  • Attorneys can skillfully negotiate with insurance companies, increasing the chances of a favorable settlement.
  • If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, an attorney will represent you in court, advocating for your best interests.
  • Personal injury attorneys offer compassionate support along with the objective professionalism you need.

The initial consultation is always free. Even if you do not ultimately need legal representation, you can walk away from your case evaluation with a better understanding of your legal options and the peace of mind from having someone address your questions.

Speak With a Personal Injury Attorney Today

In the aftermath of a personal injury caused by another person or party, there is no time too soon to contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about your options for recovering damages. Find out your personal injury lawyer’s fee structure at a consultation.

At LA Century Law, we believe you have the right to experienced legal representation to help you hold the at-fault party in your case responsible for their actions and the damage they caused. Contact us in San Bernardino, California by phone or using our online form to schedule your free consultation today. We will discuss the fee structure upfront so you can move forward without stress.

What Is the Delayed Discovery Rule in California?

What Is the Delayed Discovery Rule in California?

In California, the state-mandated statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of your injury. That means you have two years to file a lawsuit against the person who caused your pain and suffering, and the court will dismiss any suit filed after the deadline.

However, there is one exception. The delayed discovery rule in California allows you to file a civil lawsuit after the statute of limitations passes. The California personal injury team at LA Century Law can guide you through the civil process where the delayed discovery rule applies.

When Can You Invoke the Delayed Discovery Rule in California?

You may need the delayed discovery rule if your injuries were not immediately apparent after an accident or if you were reasonably unaware that you have a personal injury claim. In California, you can invoke this rule only if you can prove the following:

  • You did not discover or know the elements of your case that would lead any reasonable person to assume another party’s wrongful actions harmed you.
  • No one could have discovered or known the elements of your case that would cause a reasonable person to assume they suffered harm because of someone else’s wrongful actions.
  • No reasonable investigation or diligence led to the discovery that a product or event contributed to your injury or loss.

You may apply the delayed discovery rule to any case in California where you can rightfully pause the statute of limitations. If you are unsure how this may apply to your case, our experienced personal injury attorneys will evaluate your claim and help you take the next step toward recovering compensation.

Examples of the Delayed Discovery Rule in Use

Delayed discovery can apply to any type of personal injury case. The most common claims include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, including collisions involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists
  • Slip-and-fall accidents occurring on someone else’s property
  • Animal attack accidents
  • Product liability accidents, where the manufacturer is responsible for harm caused by defective products
  • Wrongful death cases, where the victim suffered what would otherwise constitute a personal injury claim had they survived

You would typically seek medical attention immediately after one of these accidents. However, if the full effects of the injury did not show up in your evaluation, you may need to invoke the delayed discovery rule in California to seek compensation for those latent losses.

Similarly, in a wrongful death case involving a defective product that slowly caused harm over time, the victim’s family may not know what caused their loss for months or years.

Why Does the Statute of Limitations Exist?

The statute of limitations protects those accused of wrongful actions from facing unfair legal consequences. When a substantial amount of time passes after an incident, it can impact the validity of evidence.

For example, a car accident resulting in significant property damage and bodily harm warrants filing a claim and holding the at-fault party accountable. However, the claim is less reliable if the victim knowingly waits more than two years to seek damages, calling on eyewitnesses to pull details of the accident from long-term memory.

Additionally, they may lose access to valuable evidence over time, much of it becoming irretrievable, lost, or obscured. Most statutes of limitations for civil and criminal claims serve the evidence and its preservation.

How Do Delayed Discovery Rules Work?

When the delay discovery rule applies to a case, the victim can file a lawsuit as long as the time between discovering the injury and filing their claim is within the deadline. The deadline still exists but at a later date. According to the delayed discovery rule in California, you have one year from the date you discovered the formerly unknown injury to file your lawsuit.

The difference between delayed discovery and tolling/suspending

Tolling is a broader term used to describe situations that permit the court to pause the statute of limitations. Delayed discovery is just one form of equitable tolling. Other examples include:

  • If the victim in a personal injury case is a minor
  • If the victim was not cognitively capable of making decisions or evaluating the aftermath of their accident
  • If the victim proved legally insane through an evaluation
  • If the defendant was in prison or out of state after the accident

Tolling provisions effectively suspend the statute of limitations on a wrongful act. The delayed discovery rule stops the clock specifically because the plaintiff did not or could not know that they had a reason to file a claim or lawsuit.

Contact Our Firm About the Delayed Discovery Rule in California

You should contact our legal team if you have questions about a personal injury claim. If the delayed discovery rule in California applies to your case, you may still have time to build a claim and recover damages for your losses. You must act promptly.

Our team of experienced attorneys can help you understand the value of your case and how to navigate the legal process. Contact us at LA Century Law by phone or online to schedule your free consultation. We keep the phone line open 24/7.

What Is a Loss of Consortium Claim in California?

What Is a Loss of Consortium Claim in California?

Loss of consortium is a type of loss experienced by spouses of traumatic accident victims. These losses are non-economic in nature and are filed by the spouses of the victims. However, they must prove they have a right to financial compensation due to the accident.

The California personal injury lawyers at LA Century Law are skilled in pursuing loss of consortium claims. Get in touch anytime to discuss your case.

The Legal Basis for a Loss of Consortium Claim

The California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) provides an in-depth explanation of the law. CACI 3920 states two issues that can lead to loss of consortium under California law. A spouse may file the claim following an injury or the wrongful death of a spouse.

The spouse may seek compensation for the following:

  • The loss of comfort, companionship, care, assistance, affection, affection, moral support, and protection
  • The loss of the ability to have children with the injured and enjoyment of sexual relations.

CACI goes on to say that no standard amount is set aside for such damages. The court decides the right amount to be awarded to the spouse of the injured or deceased based on the evidence provided, common sense, and reasonable compensation. Since this area is open, the onus is on the spouse to prove to the court the amounts that they are entitled to.

In addition, the amount awarded does not include any payments concerning injuries or treatments suffered by the victim. Therefore, it does not cover the following:

  • The loss of income for they take time away to take care of the accident victim
  • The costs associated with taking care of the injured, such as cleaning, nursing, and household services,
  • Loss of financial support from the spouse

While the above rules appear in the CACI, it is unnecessary for spouses of accident victims to go to court to recover these amounts. Sometimes, the same can be done through the insurance negotiation process. Only if one cannot get the rightful compensation should one consider going to court.

How to Calculate the Loss of Consortium Award in California

Non-economic damages are intangible losses that cannot be directly quantified in cash. For example, you will estimate the monetary value of your spouse’s ability to engage in sexual enjoyment or bear children with you. The court may also reduce the amount to be recovered if the victim was partially to blame for the accident.

A judge’s jury will attempt to estimate the value of all aspects you bring up as things you will not enjoy with your injured or deceased spouse. Most of these aspects relate to marriage. For that reason, the court will check the stability of the marriage before the accident occurs to ascertain the value you would have gotten from it had the spouse been in perfect health.

The amount you get as compensation may also be affected by the insurance policy compensation limits. An example is if the policy has a $20,000 limit per person per accident, it will not pay more than that for the damages to the injured spouse and your loss of consortium claims. A court case will bring up the amount that it has already compensated for the injuries or loss of the loved one before an estimate is made.

There is also a cap on the maximum amount you can be compensated for non-economic damages in medical malpractice at $250,000 per victim. Spouses of such victims can recover up to $250,000 for loss of consortium.

How to Prove a Loss of Consortium Claim

Loss of consortium is compensation for the services you will no longer receive from your spouse. Your attorney will work with a marriage counselor, a therapist, or a physician to help prove that the accident has had a profound effect on your marriage.

You will need to answer the following questions:

  1. How has the injury to your spouse impacted the daily running of the relationship with your spouse?
  2. Has the injury affected your quality of life in any way?
  3. Has the injury affected their ability to show affection or love?
  4. Has the accident affected their ability to provide companionship or moral support?
  5. Is the spouse unable to enjoy sexual relations with you due to the injury?
  6. Is the spouse unable to bear children with you due to the injury?
  7. Are the effects of the accident and the injury likely to remain for their lifetime? If not, how long are they likely to last?

Other Areas to Check When Proving a Claim

There are four other elements that are likely to come into play when proving a loss of consortium claim.

Validity of the marriage

You must have been legally married to the spouse by the time of the accident or have entered into a registered domestic partnership. A cohabiting partner is not entitled to make a claim.

Tortious injury to the spouse and proximate cause

The spouse must have suffered an injury due to the negligent conduct of another party. In this case, the spouse makes a separate personal injury claim against the other party. If both of you were injured in the accident, you are still eligible to file loss of consortium claims if another party was negligent.

You cannot make a claim for issues like stress at work, challenging assignments, or a rude boss. The issue must be caused directly by the defendant.

Loss of enjoyment

The spouse making a claim must prove that they cannot enjoy some of the services they used to get from the spouse. The spouse may have been incapacitated so that they cannot partake in sexual relations or relational activities, or they may have become moody and do not give emotional support or affection.

Discuss Your Loss of Consortium Damages Claim with LA Century Law

Reach out to LA Century Law for loss of consortium damages in California. Our experienced lawyers will handle your case and guide you on the way forward. We have years of experience handling different aspects of accident-rated claims.

Loss of Consortium Claim FAQs

Is there a time limit for loss of consortium claims?

The California personal injury statute of limitations applies, which gives a two-year time limit to a loss of consortium claim.

Can you make a claim for loss of consortium alongside other claims?

Loss of consortium is regarded as a separate claim from other accident-related claims. You can make a claim for it even if you were compensated for the loss of the loved one or the spouse was compensated for their injuries.

Understanding T-Bone Accident Fault in California

T-bone accidents result in approximately 8,000 fatalities each year in the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Such an accident can cause life-altering injuries that may affect the victim’s ability to continue working, raising a family, or even living independently.

If you’re a T-bone accident victim, you may be unable to afford to pay your medical bills, meet your financial obligations, repair your vehicle, or live life normally. If you or your loved one has been injured in a T-bone accident in California, it is vital to seek legal representation as soon as possible to recover compensation for your damages.

Understanding T-Bone Collisions: What Are They?

Also known as a side-impact or broadside collision, T-bone accidents occur when two vehicles collide, and one strikes the other from the side. These collisions often result in severe damage to both cars, which can lead to significant injuries.

The driver of the vehicle that’s hit from the side usually suffers the worst injuries, including broken bones, internal organ damage, brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, and neck injuries. The driver of the other vehicle also faces similar risks.

Understanding Scenarios Where T-Bone Accidents Happen

Here are a few common scenarios that may lead to you getting T-boned in a car accident:

  • Failure to yield the right-of-way: When motorists fail to yield the right-to-way to oncoming traffic, they place themselves and others around them at risk of severe injuries.
  • Running red lights: If a motorist runs a red light at an intersection, they risk colliding with a vehicle traveling with the right-of-way.
  • Ignoring stop or drive slow signs: Motorists should always obey all traffic signals and signs meant to warn them against cross-traffic.
  • Texting while driving: The law forbids texting and driving, and this behavior is especially risky when approaching an intersection with heavy traffic.

Establishing T-Bone Accident Fault: Who May Be Responsible?

For a plaintiff to establish fault in a T-bone accident injury case, they must prove that the defendant was negligent. Negligence refers to failing to act as a reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances.

When determining who is responsible for a T-bone accident, the investigators usually examine the following forms of evidence:

  • Traffic camera footage
  • Presence of stop signs and other traffic signals
  • Eyewitness statements from the observers of the incident
  • Statements from both drivers
  • Skid marks
  • The findings of the police report, if available

Note the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff and not the defendant. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is an important decision that any accident victim should make to collect and compile every last piece of evidence.

While one driver may be at-fault in a T-bone crash for breaking traffic laws, in other circumstances, both drivers may be at fault.

At-Fault Driver Breaking the Law

As we mentioned earlier, several scenarios may lead to a T-bone accident. Most of these situations involve the at-fault driver breaking the law. Below are a few examples of laws the at-fault driver may have broken:

  • Entering the intersection illegally
  • Running the red light or rolling through the stop sign
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way when making a left turn
  • Mistakenly thinking the light is green and cruising through
  • Drunk driving or distracted driving

Both Drivers At-Fault

In certain circumstances, you may share liability with the other motorist in a T-bone crash. For instance, if you were speeding but the other driver failed to yield the right-of-way, the prosecution may find both of you responsible for the incident. Since California is a comparative negligence state, you may still collect compensation for your T-bone accident injuries even as you bear partial fault for the collision.

Contact LA Century Law If Injured in a T-Bone Accident in California

It is vital to seek legal representation from determined attorneys with considerable car accident experience. Our team at LA Century Law will help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries. We know how to navigate the complex court and insurance system and ensure that you receive fair treatment throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

T-Bone Accident Fault FAQs

Why does fault determination matter?

Determining fault in a T-bone accident is a must, as it helps establish whether the other motorist is directly liable for the crash. Also, it helps determine the percentage of how much money of your settlement or award you should get paid for your injuries.

How do I prove fault in a T-bone car accident?

You need to gather all the evidence possible to support your claim. These include witness statements, police reports, medical records, photographs, etc. The more information you have, the better.

How Much Do You Ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement?

When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may wonder how much your injury claim is worth. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question.

It can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the legal system to accurately assess the value of their claim. Fortunately, an experienced attorney will have a good understanding of how to calculate the value of a claim and will fight for the full amount of compensation that you deserve.

Factors That Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Settlement in California

The amount of your settlement will depend on several factors, including:

Severity of injuries

There are two primary ways that the severity of your injuries can impact the value of your injury settlement:

  1. Medical bills: The more severe your injuries, often the higher your medical bills will be. Since your medical bills are typically one of the most significant expenses you incur as a result of an accident, they have a major impact on the value of your settlement.
  2. Pain and suffering: Your pain and suffering can depend on the nature of your injuries (e.g., whether they’re permanent or not). If a severe, long-term injury resulted in emotional distress, you may be able to recover more money for your pain and suffering.

Level of property damage

In California, personal injury settlements are based on a principle known as “comparative fault.” This means that the court will compare the level of fault between the plaintiff and the defendant. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, they will not be eligible for compensation.

However, if the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, their damages will be reduced by their degree of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 40% at fault, their settlement will be reduced to $60,000.

Lost wages if a victim cannot work

If you’ve been injured in an accident and cannot work, you may be entitled to lost wages as part of your personal injury settlement. Lost wages can be a significant portion of your overall damages, so it’s important to ensure you recover all the wages you’re entitled to.

In California, there are two primary ways to recover lost wages: through economic damages and through loss of earning capacity damages.

  1. Economic damages are intended to compensate you for your lost wages due to your injury.
  2. Loss of earning capacity damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate you for the loss of future earnings.

To recover lost wages, you will need to provide documentation of your injuries and their impact on your ability to work. This may include:

  • Medical records
  • Pay stubs, and
  • Expert testimony

If you’re able to return to work but are earning less than you did before the accident, you may also be able to recover lost earnings through a vocational rehabilitation assessment.

Level of emotional and psychological trauma

The value of your personal injury settlement may be affected by the emotional and psychological trauma you experienced due to your accident. In California, pain and suffering damages are capped at $250,000, but this does not include emotional distress damages.

To maximize the value of your injury settlement, it is important to document how the accident has affected you emotionally and psychologically. This can include anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Keep a journal documenting your symptoms and how they impact your day-to-day life.

A personal injury lawyer can advise you on ways to maximize the value of your settlement and get the compensation you deserve.

How to Calculate a Personal Injury Settlement

A personal injury settlement in California is typically calculated by considering the total amount of damages sustained, including economic and non-economic damages.

There are two methods of calculating a personal injury settlement in California.

Multiplier method

The multiplier method considers not only your medical bills and lost wages but also the pain and suffering you’ve endured. In California, the multiplier is typically between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injuries.

When an insurance company uses the multiplier method to calculate a personal injury settlement, they will take the total amount of your medical bills and other damages and then multiply that number by a figure between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries. For example, if you have $10,000 in medical bills and other damages and the insurance company uses a multiplier of 3, your settlement would be $30,000.

Per diem method

A per diem method for personal injury claims is when an injured person is compensated for each day they are affected by their injuries. For example, if someone is in the hospital for a week after a car accident, they would be compensated for each day that they were in the hospital. This compensation method can also be used for other damages, such as lost wages due to being unable to work.

For example, you sustain a brain injury and other economic damages amounting to $200,000 and experience pain from the injuries for 120 days after the accident. Assuming you were making $200 a day, your damages will be estimated at $24,000 ($200x$120), and a fair settlement amount would be $224,000.

A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the right formula for your case.

What Will Reduce the Compensation You receive?

There are a few things that can reduce the amount you receive as compensation for damages in California.

Shared fault rule

If you are found to be even partially at fault for an accident, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 in damages but are found to be 20% at fault, you will only receive $8,000.

Damage caps

California has laws limiting the amount of money awarded for certain damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. This means that even if a jury awards you a higher amount, the court will reduce it to comply with the cap.

Insurance availability

If the person at fault for an accident does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all of your damages, you may only be able to recover what their insurance policy limits are. This can often be much less than the full amount of your damages. In some cases, you may be able to recover from your insurance policy if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement

If you’ve been injured in an accident, working with a personal injury lawyer is essential to ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to. An experienced lawyer at LA Century Law will know how to maximize your settlement by considering all of the above-mentioned factors. If you have any questions about your case or want to discuss your options, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Settlements

How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?

The amount of time it takes to settle a personal injury claim varies depending on the circumstances of the case. Some claims can be settled relatively quickly, while others may take months or even years to resolve.

What are the most important things about settling a personal injury claim?

Never accept the first offer from the insurance company. You should also be aware of your state’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This is the deadline for filing a lawsuit, and if you miss it, you will be unable to recover any compensation for your losses.

What Are Demand Letters in California Personal Injury Cases?

A demand letter is an important aspect of personal injury claims. Personal injury demand letters outline the extent of the injury and the damages incurred and also propose the compensation needed for the damages incurred.

If you are injured and need to make a personal injury claim, you need to write a winning demand letter to the at-fault party or the insurance company. To write an excellent personal injury demand letter, you should hire a personal injury attorney to help you draft the letter and follow up on the whole process.

This article explains everything you need to know about personal injury demand letters in the state of California.

What is a Demand Letter?

A demand letter can be defined as a formal request by the victim to the insurance company or at-fault party seeking compensation for the injuries sustained and the expenses incurred.

A demand letter is an attempt to settle informally instead of filing a lawsuit, and it can be submitted directly by the injured party or their attorney. Since it seeks compensation for injuries and damages sustained, a demand letter should be factual and truthful. A poorly written and exaggerated demand letter can hurt your chances of fair compensation.

For this reason, accident victims hire a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer.

What Information Should be Included?

A personal injury demand letter should not necessarily be long, especially in small claims cases, but precise, factual, and truthful. A well-written demand letter sets forth a solid case and arguments on why the at-fault party is liable and why the injured party warrants compensation.

The following is the most crucial information that must be included in your personal injury demand letter:

  • The time, date, and location of the accident.
  • The name(s) and contact information of the at-fault party and their insurer.
  • Details of the injuries the plaintiff sustained from the accident
  • Summary of damages the injured party incurred, including medical bills, lost wages, and explanation of non-economic damages
  • Other supporting documents like X-rays, MRIs, and other test results, photos, and or videos of accident scenes and injuries sustained.

This information must be documented and organized correctly in your demand letter to increase your chances of compensation by the at-fault party or an insurance company.

What Are Some Best Practices for Writing a Demand Letter?

The most crucial component of successfully resolving your injury claim is the submission of a well-written demand letter. We have compiled some best practices to help you draft and submit a winning demand letter to the at-fault party.

1. Review your medical records

Medical records are vital in settling personal injury claims since they establish your injuries. Medical records also explicitly explain the cause of your injuries, and this is important because the insurer or at-fault party may try to attribute your injuries to other events.

Most importantly, medical records establish an important link between the accident and the injuries. For your demand letter to be thorough, you will need to attach the medical records and emphasize what they explain. You need to have a general idea of what the records say about the extent of the injuries sustained.

2. Present your expenses

Before even drafting a demand letter, you need to know that you are not likely to be compensated for any undocumented expense. Therefore, it is imperative that you document and keep track of all expenses related to the injuries you have sustained.

For instance, you can document the amount of money you have incurred on gasoline as you honor a doctor’s appointment to treat your injuries. Documenting your expenses will make it easier for you to write an excellent demand letter.

3. Be organized

A well-organized and precisely written demand letter can guarantee you timely compensation from the at-fault party. You can group your expenses and damages into categories and make your demand letter look as professional as possible.

4. Do not exaggerate

You might be desperate to maximize your compensation, making you exaggerate your claim. However, such a move is counterproductive and will work against you during negotiations. Never try to appeal to the insurer’s or at-fault party’s sense of pity because you are not likely to influence them.

What is the Timeline for When You Should Receive a Demand Letter Response?

Ordinarily, after submitting a demand letter, it takes roughly two weeks to two months to receive a settlement check. This happens if the insurance company or the at-fault party agrees to your injury claims. Importantly, insurers are not allowed to unnecessarily delay the settlement process, but they often do so using strategies like:

  • Settlement negotiations: An insurer might delay their replies if they feel you are owed less than you are claiming. They might send you a lower offer after some time, and since they believe you desperately need the compensation, you will agree to their proposal.
  • Paperwork not filled out: The claim response and settlement process may be delayed by insurers by claiming that you failed to complete the necessary documentation,
  • Planning for court: The insurers or at-fault party may delay their response if they are planning to take the issue to trial.

These aren’t the only reasons that necessitate a delay in response and settlement. Fortunately, if you don’t hear a response by a reasonable time, there is a recourse for the injured party as they can file a lawsuit and pursue compensation through the courts.

Need an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in California?

A demand letter is an important part of your personal injury claim, and it is best produced in the hands of a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney. If you or your loved ones are injured in California, contact LA Century Law for a consultation and legal advice. Speak to us today by phone or online.

FAQs About Demand Letters

What should I include in a personal injury demand letter?

You must include information about the date and location of the accidents, the name and contact information of the at-fault party, injuries sustained, and other supporting documents.

How long will it take to get a response from the insurance party, and what should I do when I don’t receive the response?

The response takes approximately two weeks to two months to be received. If you don’t receive a response, you have the legal recourse of filing a lawsuit.

The Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal injury claims can be complex and time-consuming. When you get a personal injury attorney, they take on the whole litigation process for you, which involves discovery, negotiation, mediation, settlement, and trial.

For every personal injury lawsuit, there is a timeline. We’ll provide a general overview of personal injury lawsuit timelines and answer some common questions you might have.

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Under the law, all states require victims to pursue legal action against those who have harmed them. Personal injury claims involve the negligent act of someone else causing harm or damage to other individuals. What constitutes negligence varies state by state.

During a lawsuit in court, a personal injury lawyer will represent you before a judge or jury and take testimony from witnesses who saw what happened. Personal injury lawyers will handle filing motions to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Most personal injury lawsuits require a plaintiff to prove three things;

  • That they suffered damages from the incident
  • That the defendant’s negligence caused these damages
  • That the defendant had the opportunity to prevent the damages

Depending on the type of injury and the circumstances surrounding the incident, victims may be eligible for various types of damages, including medical bills and lost wages.

How Do Personal Injury Lawsuits Work?

The first steps before filing a personal injury lawsuit involves getting medical attention and an experienced attorney. You should seek out any injuries immediately after being injured at work or elsewhere.

Once you have received proper medical care, your attorney can gather what’s necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused your accident. The attorney will also review the law and be available to answer your questions.

The factors that determine how long a personal injury lawsuit will take include:

  • Whether or not you have insurance
  • What type of injuries you sustained
  • Whether you have legal representation

1. Discovery Phase

In personal injury lawsuits, the discovery phase may last between 60-180 days. Both parties gather evidence and information about each other’s case at this stage. It is also known as pre-trial litigation.

During this stage, you should gather information regarding the defendant’s insurance coverage, medical records, and any witness statements taken by the police. It helps to determine if they have enough financial resources to pay you what you deserve.

2. Settlement and Mediation

Mediation is a way for the two sides to find a settlement out of court instead of going to trial. If mediation fails, each party will have 30 calendar days to file a motion with the court asking them to accept or reject the settlement negotiated during the mediation session.

If the settlement is rejected, the lawsuit moves to trial. However, if the settlement is accepted, the paperwork must be signed and filed with the clerk’s office.

You can file a motion for summary judgment if you do not settle before the deadline. It means that the trial court will decide whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law without going to trial.

If there is no dispute over the facts, the judge may grant summary judgment in favor of the moving party. When there is a dispute of fact, the court will issue a ruling after holding a hearing. This decision may affect the number of damages awarded.

After the judge decides the case, they send the decision to the plaintiffs and defendants’ attorneys. Each side gets 30 days to appeal the decision.

3. Pre-Trial Conference

This conference aims to select a jury, set a trial date, and ensure that the judge has everything they need to hear the case. In addition to setting a trial date, the parties decide whether the case will go before a judge alone or a jury. Most cases go to a jury trial.

The judge decides whether to postpone the case due to scheduling conflicts. They also decide on the hearing of any motions filed in the case. If the case proceeds to trial, the parties give opening statements to the judge and jury, where applicable.

4. Trial Phase

During this phase, the lawyers for the plaintiff and the defendant present their arguments to the jury. Afterwards, both sides give closing arguments and ask the jury questions about the presented law.

Depending on which side gets the favorable verdict, the other party pays them. After the trial, the judge writes their opinion based on the jury instructions given during the trial.

5. Appealing the Decision

If a side disagrees with the results of their case, they can appeal the decision to a higher court. They will request a rehearing to provide additional evidence or testimony previously not considered by the court. After the rehearing, the judge can make a different ruling.

Where Do You Find Information About a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you have sustained injuries due to the fault of others, it is essential that you seek medical care right away. Your medical records will hold valuable information about the accident and are an excellent place to start looking for clues about your lawsuit.

What are The Typical Damages Awarded to Victims of Personal Injury?

In a personal injury case, the victim can seek monetary compensation in addition to other forms of relief. Typical remedies include:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Non-economic losses and costs
  • Emotional distress damages
  • Lost wages
  • Future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Attorney fees

Get Legal Guidance for Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits can be complicated, time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. You probably want justice if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness to get compensation for your injuries.

Our lawyers at LA Century Law have extensive experience working on behalf of accident victims seeking compensation for personal injuries. It is always best to speak to an attorney before making any decisions about your case since there could be legal implications if you act without counsel. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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