Should I Sue After a Personal Injury Accident?

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Should I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Accident?

Should I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Accident?

Nov 3, 2021

When an unfortunate and untimely accident resulting in an injury happens, the ensuing medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering can be devastating. Whether you’re involved in a car, truck, pedestrian, bus, slip and fall, or other type of accident, you may be wondering whether or not pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is the best path forward.

Below we will review the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, discuss what deadlines exist when filing a claim, and look at what types of damages may be recoverable. We’ll also provide information on how to arrange for a free and no obligation consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit/Claim?

Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that over 400,000 personal injury civil lawsuits are filed every year. As one of the more common types of lawsuits seen within the U.S. justice system, personal injury claims can be a means of helping victims recover the compensation they deserve for various types of accidents. Additionally, although over 400,000 personal injury lawsuits are filed annually, the vast majority settle out of court, with only 16,300 claims estimated to ever require a trial.

When you’re injured in an accident as a result of another party’s negligence (whether an individual or entity), you should not be responsible for covering losses such as hospital or medical bills, physical therapy, lost earning capacity, and more out-of-pocket. Rather, the liable party should cover all applicable damages – both economic and non-economic – and ensure you are able to make a complete recover – both in terms of physical health and well-being but also your financial stability.

In the vast majority of cases, the best way to ensure that you recover maximum financial compensation for your personal injury is through a civil lawsuit. Insurance companies representing at-fault parties are in the business of reducing payouts to injured victims – often to the point that future medical bills and issues like pain and suffering are not properly covered. While it may be enticing to accept a quick settlement offer from an insurance company after a car, truck, pedestrian, or other type of accident, consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer before agreeing to anything is strongly recommended.

How is Liability Determined in California Personal Injury Cases?

A common question we encounter at Dordulian Law Group is:

I was partially responsible for my accident. Can I still sue for financial compensation?

The good news is that California is what’s known as a pure comparative fault (or pure comparative negligence) state. This means that whenever an accident occurs, fault is properly divided among all involved parties.

In some cases, one party (a truck driver, pedestrian, dog owner, etc.) may be found 100% liable, and therefore the injured party will bear no responsibility whatsoever. But in car accident cases as well as other types of motor vehicle collisions (scooter, motorcycle, etc.), the involved parties are often found to share a portion of the responsibility.

When 100% fault is applied to a single party, any resulting settlement or verdict following a personal injury lawsuit would be issued in full (i.e. a $500,000 car accident damages award would remain intact). But when shared fault is applied, the percentage of liability held by the injured party (typically less than the at-fault party) will be deducted from any settlement or verdict issued following a personal injury lawsuit.

For example:

If you’re involved in a car accident and, although the driver who injured you was found to be primarily responsible for traveling at excessive speed (let’s say 95% liable for our purposes), you would then be held liable for the remaining 5% (perhaps you were also found to be partially responsible due to a broken taillight). Accordingly, your portion of responsibility would then be deducted from any settlement or verdict you received through a personal injury lawsuit.

So, if you recovered a $100,000 damages award through a personal injury lawsuit settlement, the ultimate amount issued would actually be $95,000 (given the 5% liability you shared).

With California’s comparative fault law, at-fault parties who were injured in accidents but not 100% liable still have an opportunity to recover some damages through civil lawsuits.

Should I File a Lawsuit After a Personal Injury Accident?

Wondering whether or not hiring a personal injury lawyer after a car, truck, or bicycle accident is necessary? Maybe you’d be better off accepting an offer from the insurance company or even representing yourself in court? Some confirmed statistics offer insight into the benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney.

The Insurance Research Council (IRC) conducted a study which confirmed the following:

  • Settlements were actually 40% higher when injured claimants had private legal representation.
  • The average insurance payout is actually 3.5 times higher for clients who have hired a private attorney (when compared to those injured victims representing themselves).
  • 85% of all money paid by insurance companies for bodily injuries is received by clients who have secured representation from a private personal injury attorney.

In addition to the above statistics, it’s important to note that having a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer fighting for you can help ensure that, in addition to economic damages like lost wages, hospital/medical bills, etc., you’re able to recover difficult to quantify and prove non-economic damages as well – such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, reduced quality of life, and more.

What Damages Can I Recover Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The types of damages you may be eligible to recover through a personal injury lawsuit will vary based on the facts of your accident. The degree of responsibility (whether 100% on one party or shared by multiple parties), the severity of your injuries, the type of injuries you sustained, and more will help determine the types of damages you will likely be able to obtain.

Some of the most common economic and non-economic damages recovered through personal injury civil lawsuits include:

Economic Damages:

  • Lost wages
  • Hospital or medical expenses
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Lost earning capacity

Non-Economic Damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Emotional trauma
  • Psychological distress

Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert personal injury attorneys.

In cases where wanton malice or disregard for human life occurs, injured victims may be eligible to recover punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are not capped in the state of California. Dordulian Law Group (DLG) pursues punitive damages on behalf of injured victims like you in all applicable cases.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit/Claim?

In California, the vast majority of personal injury claims are bound by a two-year statute of limitations. This means that in most cases you will have two years from the date the injury occurred to file a civil lawsuit.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, when filing a claim against a public or government entity, the statute of limitations is reduced significantly – usually to only six months after the injury occurred. Accordingly, it’s recommended that injured victims contact an experienced and trusted attorney immediately after an accident to ensure all deadlines for filing a claim are met.

To arrange for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation with a DLG personal injury lawyer, contact us online or by phone at 818-322-4056.

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