Your Guide to California Personal Injury Settlements

It’s an unfortunate truth that anyone can face a personal injury at any moment. While it certainly won’t take away the stress, pain, missed opportunities, and other consequences of a personal injury, you may be entitled to compensation in cases where your injury was due to the negligence of another party. For example, if you were injured in a car accident where another driver was deemed at fault, you may want to seek the help of an Orange County injury lawyer to pursue your case.

Settlement vs trial

In the vast majority of cases, judges prefer settlements of trials in personal injury cases, and attorneys will generally push for this, as well. Reasons for this can vary, but it’s usually because trials are far more expensive and stressful for all involved compared to an out-of-court settlement.

Trials are also far less predictable than settlements. California follows comparative fault laws for car accidents, meaning that more than one person involved can be deemed financially responsible for the accident. Additionally, victims of an accident are not barred from seeking compensation from damages even if they are considered at fault. This means that in the case of a settlement, even if the opposing driver is deemed mostly responsible for the accident, you would still pay 20 percent out of your settlement for damages. The percentages decided on by a judge during a trial could be far less favorable, and an attorney can never offer more than an educated guess.

You have a much better chance at a favorable outcome within a timely manner when pursuing an out of court settlement. There’s no real “average” amount for a settlement because they are determined by such a wide variety of factors, but there are plenty of steps you can take as a client to increase your chances of a good outcome. California’s statute of limitations will allow you two years to file a claim following the accident.

Medical attention

For your own safety and recovery, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention following an accident. This serves a double purpose if you believe you may have a personal injury case. Seeking immediate treatment will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any injuries sustained were in fact a result of the accident rather than any other sources. It will also give you an immediate start on preparing your medical documents. Follow any recommended treatments and attend follow up appointments to keep these records up to date. Gaps in medical documentation are among the most certain ways to sabotage a personal injury case.

Collecting evidence

Following your medical treatment, you’ll want to bring as much relevant information as possible to your initial meeting with an attorney. Luckily, most work on a contingency basis for personal injury cases, so there is little risk to you in pursuing assistance.

Any video or photographic evidence you can provide of the accident scene will be extremely helpful. Even if you don’t have evidence of the accident itself, photographing the surrounding area and any signs, property damage, or other marking can provide valuable context for the situation. Any accident/police reports in addition to your medical records will be useful, as well as any statements or contact information for willing witnesses.

Providing this information will show an attorney that you are serious about the case and prepared to cooperate, which will increase the odds they’ll take your case.

Reaching a settlement

A good attorney will fight for your rights and best interests throughout the entirety of the legal process, but as previously stated, it’s often more advantageous to take a reasonable settlement in lieu of going to court. This will be offered by either the defendant or their insurer, and the more worried they are about the ramifications of going to court, the more likely they’ll be to make a good offer.

If you agree to the settlement offer, you also agree to waive any future claims against the defendant regarding this case, even if you later decide the settlement was unsatisfactory for the damages caused. The certainty, lower costs to you, quick resolution, and privacy of a settlement typically make it your best option.

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