Ultimately, whether or not someone recovers against a defendant depends upon the decision of the jury, or in cases of a bench trial, the judge. Alternately, the case could settle long before going to trial, and indeed, most personal injury cases in Southern California and throughout the United States settle in this way. The Southern California personal injury lawyers at Steinberg Injury Lawyers have helped hundreds of people determine their chances of recovery against defendants. If you’ve been injured through the actions of another, you probably wonder whether your circumstances warrant a “case” against that other person. Here are a few questions that directly affect recoverability in personal injury cases. Reading through them can help you determine whether it’s likely that you have a good faith personal injury case against a possible defendant. However, there are sometimes exceptions to the rules of law, and when in doubt it is best to contact our office for a free consultation.
When did the action or injury occur?
This question helps you to formulate what is known in the legal world as the “statute of limitations.” The law of California puts a limit on how long after an injury the potential plaintiff can bring a lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the time of the injury. Essentially, if you do not actually file a lawsuit during this time period, you lose your right to sue. Since even a successful settlement depends upon the threat of the plaintiff to sue the defendant, this short period of time is most often your only window to pursue a monetary recovery against the responsible party. In cases against a government agency or municipality, the time period is as short as six months.
Who is the responsible party?
Defendants in California will often make an argument that you, the injured party, is actually to blame or at least contributed to the injury. If the facts indicate that you do share some of the liability for the occurrence, that can drastically impact your personal injury case. This determination is very fact-specific and the plaintiff and defense sides in a lawsuit will often argue their own versions. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced Southern California personal injury lawyer on your side from the very beginning of your case or claim.
What type of injury is it?
Many personal injury cases fall into distinct categories, such as dog bites, motor vehicle accidents, or premises liability (such as slip and fall cases). The type of liability, and the burden on the defendant, is different depending upon the type of case. For example, in California there is strict liability for dog owners when their animals bite someone. This means that a bitten plaintiff might recover against the dog owners even if they were not negligent and even if it’s the very first time that dog has bitten anyone.
If you believe that you or a family member may have a personal injury case, even if you aren’t sure, call the Southern California personal injury lawyers at Steinberg Injury Lawyers at 1-800-350-8888 to find out how we can help.