Every year, thousands of people are injured in different accidents throughout the United States. Common examples of this unfortunate reality are car crashes, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents, among others. After an accident, you will likely be presented with two compensation options: settlement or on-the-court personal injury claim. Our Ventura personal injury attorneys invite you to keep reading as we discuss whether you need to go to court for a personal injury in California.
Do I Have to Go to Court for My California Personal Injury Claim?
It is common for personal injury victims to file a claim after an accident. Filing a personal injury claim may be the best option for those looking to obtain compensation for their losses. However, many people choose to settle their cases. This brings up the debate of whether a personal injury claim with the court is necessary or if you can settle your case off-court. It is important for people to understand how both procedural options work in order to make a conscious decision moving forward.
Personal Injury Settlements
A personal injury settlement is an offer made to you by the parties involved and your insurance company after an accident. As a victim, you have the chance to take your case to court, where a verdict over your case will be given to you. However, a personal injury settlement may arrive at any moment after your accident, but before a final court ruling on your case. A settlement allows you to get a specified amount of money. However, there is a caveat to consider in your settlement case. Settlements in personal injury cases work as a waiver in the sense that the defendant or the insurance company offers you money in exchange for dropping their charges.
When you accept a settlement, you may renounce to any future proceedings related to your accident against the defendant(s). While getting money while avoiding court may sound like a great idea, you may have a better shot at getting more money by taking your case to court. Many insurance companies and defendants may provide you with an offer that is not even remotely close to what you could be entitled if you took your case to court.
Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims are legal proceedings where the plaintiff (injured victim) files a claim against the defendant (the liable party). Most of these claims happen after a person is injured due to the actions or omissions of another. The purpose behind a personal injury claim is to make the injured victim whole again. Personal injury claims are based on a negligence theory requiring the plaintiff to show the third party’s negligent actions caused their losses.
Different from a transactional settlement, personal injury cases are procedural in nature, requiring going through legal rules such as civil procedure. To obtain compensation in a personal injury case, you have the burden of showing negligence. This requires proving specific elements of your claim. The court may grant you compensation if you can prove the existence of negligence.
The Personal Injury Claim Process in California
As we mentioned above, getting compensation in a personal injury case requires you to prove the liable parties were, in fact, negligent. Negligence-based cases require the plaintiff to prove four main elements, which will ultimately determine whether they will be granted compensation.
The first element you will need to prove to the court is the duty of care. In other words, you will need to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. For instance, in a car accident case, you can prove the duty of care by showing the liable party owed you a duty to drive safely. Once you have shown the existence of a duty of care, you can jump into the second element of your personal injury case: breach of duty.
This second element requires you to prove that the defendant did not meet the requirements of a prudent, reasonable person. In other words, you will need to determine that the defendant breached their duty of care. Following the above example, breach of duty can be demonstrated by showing that the defendant was driving recklessly. The third component in your personal injury case is causation. Causation refers to the linking nexus between the defendant’s negligent actions and your injuries or losses. Finally, you will need to show the court that you suffered losses as a consequence of the defendant’s negligence. Medical bills lost wages, and pain and suffering are typical examples of losses you may have experienced as a result of your personal injury.
The Personal Injury Settlement Process in California
In personal injury settlements, the process is different than the one held at court. Generally, your personal injury attorney and the defendant’s lawyer will sit down and decide what your case may be worth and how much settlement you can get. The process can be short or long, depending on the situation, the severity of your injuries, and how willing the defendant’s lawyer is to meet common ground. Once you agree upon the defendant’s offer, your lawyer will make it official, and the transaction should soon follow. There is a disadvantage to settlements in California. More times than not, settlements won’t be able to cover the majority or entirety of your case’s worth. This is why, sometimes taking your case to court may be the best solution to your situation.
California Personal Injury Attorney Offering Free Consultations in Ventura and Santa Barbara
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost after an accident, especially if you or someone you know sustained catastrophic injuries. However, you don’t have to be alone in such a trying time. Our Ventura and Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh &De Smeth, PLC, understand the importance of getting adequate compensation after an accident. Thanks to our many years of experience, we are able to put all of our knowledge, skill, and dedication into your case. Call our law offices today and see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our phone number is (805) 643-5555.