Personal Injury Lawyer in California

Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer in California

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 8 minutes

Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer in California

Finding the right legal representation and personal injury lawyer in California is crucial if you’ve been injured in an accident due to the fault of another party (i.e., other driver(s), manufacturer defects, etc.). You could be entitled to significant compensation under the law to cover your losses. Understanding California law is crucial in personal injury lawsuits, as it encompasses regulations on premises liability, product liability, car and truck accidents itself, and the statute of limitations for filing a claim. Moving forward with a legal claim can be challenging, however, and is best pursued with the assistance of an experienced California personal injury attorney. To understand how to find the right personal injury lawyer for you, it’s important to understand some of the basics, first — let’s take a look.

How much do personal injury lawyers charge in California?

Personal injury attorneys most often work on a contingency fee basis — in California and elsewhere. Contingency fee arrangements, also known as a contingency fee agreement, cost you nothing upfront or out-of-pocket.

To simplify, you (the injured claimant) and the insurance company will only have to pay if and when you get paid compensation for your losses. This “contingency fee” is a percentage cut of your total compensation payout, typically 25 to 40 percent of the total, depending on the phase of litigation.

Contingency fees create a favorable incentive dynamic. That’s because your personal injury attorney is incentivized to maximize your compensation and to secure that compensation in a time-efficient manner. The more you get paid, the more your attorney gets paid. Win-win!

What can a lawyer do to help you win your case?

Lawyers take on a number of different tasks over the course of litigation — they are not just courtroom advocates. Their role is rather comprehensive, in fact. The tasks that an experienced personal injury lawyer can take on include:

  • Identifying, gathering, and preserving relevant evidence
  • Investigating the facts at the accident scene
  • Handling communications with opposing counsel, law enforcement, insurance carriers, insurance adjusters, and others
  • Working with experts to develop supportive testimony
  • Putting together a persuasive legal argument
  • Negotiating a potential settlement compromise
  • Navigating court hearings and other processes
  • Pushing forward to trial litigation, if necessary
  • Securing the compensation payout for the client
  • And more

In addition to these tasks, your lawyer will provide you with essential legal advice to guide you through the complexities of your case.

As a plaintiff with no legal experience, you’re not necessarily equipped to navigate these tasks effectively on your own.

Even if you knew how to handle a given task, your ability to do so would not be at a sufficiently advanced or comfortable enough level to manage the task competitively, facing opposite the defendant’s lawyers. That’s why working with a skilled California personal injury law firm (and its local, qualified attorneys) is an important step to take in any personal injury lawsuit.

What is lawyer-client privilege and why is it important?

The lawyer-client privilege is one of several different kinds of confidentiality available to the injury victim in a lawsuit. Specifically, it protects the privacy of the communications between the injured client and their lawyer. This is extremely valuable — without it, the defense could put your attorney on the stand and ask all sorts of sensitive questions about your case that would undermine your strategy.

For example, suppose that you were talking to your attorney about how you weren’t sure if you were speeding at the time of the accident. Your uncertainty about your own speed and negligence is private — it was something you intended to communicate only to your attorney.

If the opposing counsel were to discover that you were uncertain about your own speed, then they could undermine your claim for compensation by painting you as at fault. Fortunately, the communication between you and your attorney is subject to lawyer-client privilege and is therefore not accessible to the court (or opposing counsel).

Worth noting: the privilege is automatically applied, and you can impose it on your attorney if they are questioned regarding your communications with them.

Other legal privileges include the marital privilege, physician-patient privilege, and more.

How long do you have to file an injury claim in California?

In California, the “statute of limitations” period for filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of injury, making it one of the critical legal deadlines for personal injury matters you must adhere to. This statute of limitations operates as a strict deadline for your claim and can have serious consequences for your ability to fully obtain compensation for different types of personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, and the process of filing and proceeding with a lawsuit.

If you fail to bring your personal injury claim before the deadline period passes, then California courts will consider you to have relinquished/abandoned your claim under the same personal injury law, and you will be unable to pursue recovery in court. This could very well prevent you from securing compensation.

Given the high-stakes nature of these deadlines, it’s critical that you work with experienced personal injury trial lawyers, who are familiar with the laws governing personal injury claims in California, including statutes of limitations, filing procedures, and frequently asked questions about personal injury cases, to navigate the litigation process efficiently and in a timely manner.

That being said, if you’ve delayed too long, all is not necessarily lost. Under some limited circumstances, your statute of limitations period may be extended — for example, to account for a “delayed discovery” of your injury, if the injury was not obvious at first. Don’t give up until you’ve discussed the possibility of a deadline extension with an attorney.

Damages in a California Personal Injury Dispute

In the context of a personal injury case, compensation for damages is a reflection of the losses sustained by personal injury victims as a consequence of the defendant’s behavior. Claimable losses include:

  • Wage loss
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Medical expenses (i.e., medical bills)
  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • And more

Damages vary from case to case. Two different injury victims of car accidents could have two unique damage claims, even if the accident itself was the same — that’s because the circumstances surrounding their injury may be quite unique. For example, if you’re unemployed, then your wage loss damages may be zero (or close to zero). By contrast, if you have a high-paying job and you’re forced to take a month off after your injury, the wage loss damages could be rather significant.

What are punitive damages in California personal injury?

In a personal injury lawsuit, including cases of wrongful death, punitive damages are sometimes imposed by the court in an attempt to punish defendants and to provide additional financial compensation to the plaintiff. For example, in auto accidents, the court may impose punitive damages on a manufacturer that violated safety and inspection regulations, so as to discourage other manufacturers from cutting corners with their inspection policies.

Punitive damages act as “bonus” damages, as they are additional to the basic compensatory damages amount that you’re likely to claim in litigation. They are calculated as a multiplier on your compensatory damages — if you have $20,000 in compensatory damages, you could have up to $140,000 in punitive damages, for $160,000 in total. That’s a significant spike in your overall recovery!

Given the potential to increase the monetary recovery, it’s worth exploring the possibility of punitive damages with your attorney.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in California, or anywhere else, then you could be entitled to compensation under the law and should seek a legal consultation. In Los Angeles, our network extends to attorneys whose legal experience is tailored to the city’s legal landscape. Injury litigation isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem at first glance, which is why consulting with skilled personal injury attorneys in California is crucial. Complications, new challenges, and new opportunities can arise over the course of personal injury cases. As such, consulting a qualified personal injury lawyer in California is worthwhile for navigating personal injury claims effectively.

Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 for a free legal consultation with an experienced California personal injury lawyer in our network. During this initial free consultation call, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your case in detail and obtain professional guidance on how best to proceed with litigation to maximize your compensation. There’s no obligation to continue with our network attorney if you decide against it, so there’s no downside to picking up the phone and calling in today to get started with the support of California personal injury lawyers.

We look forward to assisting you.

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can assist you no matter when your accident occurs.

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