Navigating through the aftermath of a personal injury can be daunting, particularly if you’ve never dealt with the legal system before. If you’re in Los Angeles and need a personal injury lawyer, being prepared for your search is essential. This guide will explain the process, California laws related to personal injury claims, what questions to ask when you call personal injury law firm, and their payment methods. By following these recommendations, you can ensure a productive search and make an informed decision about the legal representation for your case.
Understanding Specific Laws in Los Angeles and California
For victims of personal injuries in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to understand the laws that may apply to their case. Understanding these laws can help prepare victims for their personal injury lawyer search and be useful in navigating the process more easily.
Statute of Limitations:
One key aspect of personal injury law is the statute of limitations, which refers to the time limits for filing a lawsuit. Generally, California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the accident date. However, this time frame can vary based on the circumstances of the case. For example, if the other party is a government entity, a victim has only six months to file a claim. Also, the time limit for filing a lawsuit differs for accident victims under 18 and those in active military service.
Understanding these time limits is crucial in ensuring the victim gets a chance to present their case.
California follows a “comparative fault” principle regarding personal injury cases. This means that both parties involved in the accident can share the responsibility for the damages yet still present a claim. If a victim is found to be partially responsible, their compensation may be reduced proportionally. Understanding this concept helps in determining the potential outcome of your claim and what settlement you’re entitled to.
California is an At-Fault State:
Los Angeles and California personal injury laws operate on a “fault-based” system, meaning the responsible party pays for the damages. If the other party is found to be at fault for your accident injuries, their insurance must cover your economic and non-economic damages.
Why You Need a Full-Service Personal Injury Law Firm
You may be tempted to try and negotiate with the insurance company yourself to save on legal fees. That would be a big mistake. Insurance adjusters negotiate for a living, you likely do not. You’re also dealing with serious injuries, which makes things even more stressful. Remember, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Their employees are trained to get you to take a low offer so they can close out your case quickly. What’s more, they take claims handled by a personal injury attorney much more seriously than those from injury victims themselves.
Instead, seek the services of a full-service personal injury law firm. They will have the resources to effectively manage your claim. Make sure you are dealing with an actual law firm, not a referral service when you begin calling around for consultations. Smaller personal injury law firms won’t likely have the resources and experience to deal with a serious accident case, potentially causing you to receive a smaller settlement or verdict amount.
Ways in which a full-service personal injury law firm can help:
Medical Reports: Medical reports are one of the most crucial documents needed to prove your case. Full-service personal injury law firms have an established network of medical professionals they work with. They’ll make sure you receive the medical attention you need and communicate directly with the office staff regarding all medical documentation.
Accident Reports: Another very important document is the police accident report. Police reports are critical in determining who was at fault for the accident. A competent personal injury law firm will be able to request and obtain the accident police report much more quickly than you can.
Evidence of Lost Wages: Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings, future earnings, and other benefits like sick and vacation days. Your attorney can contact your employer for all needed documentation. This can include records of expenses like medical, therapy, and car repair bills.
Photographs of Injuries: Photographs can provide a visual record of the severity of your injuries and how they may have impacted your life. When someone is seriously injured, they may not be able to gather any evidence at the scene of the accident. This is where a full-service law firm can help. They usually have their own staff of investigators who can be dispatched to the scene of the accident at a moment’s notice. They can record the area before municipal clean up crews step in and erase it all.
Tips On Calling Personal Injury Law Firms
As the accident victim, it’s best if you can make the initial consultation calls yourself. However, if you’re not well enough to do so, don’t delay the process. Have a loved one call for you. You, or they, should explain everything that happened as clearly and concisely is possible. Since the consultation should be free, don’t hesitate to call several law firms to get a feel for their customer service. You certainly want an experienced, skilled personal injury lawyer, but you also want excellent customer service during a very difficult time.
Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the process.
Explain What Happened
The first and most crucial element for preparing your narrative is to explain what happened in detail. It’s a good idea to write down your recollection of what happened, including the sequence of events before and after the accident. Your narrative will help the lawyer to understand the case better and develop a perspective about what happened. Include details like the location of the incident, weather conditions, the time of the day, and the behavior of the involved parties.
Describe Your Injuries
Detailing your injuries is the second important element. Explain the injuries you sustained during the accident. It’s important to mention all injuries, no matter how minor they may seem. Your injuries could have long-term repercussions for your life, and if you fail to mention all of them, it may affect the outcome of your case.
Explain the Impact on Your Life
A serious injury not only impacts the victim’s life, it also affects their family too. Include details of how the injuries have changed your daily routine, your ability to work, and if it caused you any mental trauma like anxiety, depression, or any form of distress. The comprehensive information you provide will help them understand the emotional toll you and your family are experiencing.
Your narrative should be clear and concise. The information you provide in your narrative should be well-structured and to the point. Stick to the facts and details so your story is clear and straightforward.
Note How They Respond
Whether you first speak to a receptionist, representative or paralegal, make a note of how they answer the phone. Are they patient? Do they show compassion for your situation? First impressions do matter because they can be an indication of how you’ll be treated as a client.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer
After you’ve had your consultations, you’ll need to choose a personal injury law firm. Your lawyer will advise you to cease all communication with the insurance company involved. They’ll handle that, your documentation and the preparation of your claim for you. An experienced personal injury lawyer greatly improves your chances of winning a personal injury case by advocating on your behalf aggressively.
Questions to Ask During the Initial Consultation
During your first consultation, it is important to ask the right questions to ensure you choose the best personal injury law firm for you. If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, here are some key questions to ask during your initial consultation.
What is your firm’s experience with cases similar to mine?
How long has the law firm been in business? Their experience with similar cases is crucial, as it will give you an idea of their ability to handle your case. Ask them about their experience with cases involving similar injuries, types of accidents, and the litigation process. The more experience, the better equipped they will be to handle your case.
What is your success rate with similar cases?
Experience is important, but a high success rate is equally crucial. It is important to ask about the firm’s success rate in similar cases. Understanding their record of success can give you an indication of their capacity to win your case.
How are you expected to pay them?
After a serious accident, no one wants to face legal fees on top of everything else. Make sure their fee structure is transparent and easy to understand. Most personal injury law firm work on a contingency fee basis. That simply means they get paid from a percentage of the final settlement or verdict they obtain for you. Make sure you understand the contingency fee percentage and any other payments you may be required to make.
Who will be handling my case?
Before hiring a law firm, ask who will be handling your case. Established personal injury law firms have a team of in-house litigation attorneys working on cases, and sometimes different attorneys work on various aspects of your case. There may also be case managers. Understand who your primary lawyer will be and who to contact if you have questions or concerns.
What is the possible outcome of my case?
Your lawyer should be able to give you an idea of your case’s potential outcome. Ask them to outline what they think will happen with your case, including the best and worst-case scenarios. This can give you a better understanding of what to expect during litigation. Also, ask if you’ll owe them anything if they don’t obtain any compensation for you. Reputable personal injury law firms won’t send you a bill if they are not successful on your behalf.
Understanding the Benefits of a Contingency Fee Structure
A contingency fee structure means you don’t have to worry about legal fees during an emotionally and financially difficult time. It doesn’t matter whether you had medical insurance at the time of your accident or what your immigration status is, you have no out-of-pocket expenses to worry about. Also, be very wary of a law firm that asks for any money, such as a retainer fee up front or claims to work on an hourly basis. These are not the norm for personal injury law firms.
Besides avoiding a financial burden, a contingency fee structure means your personal injury lawyer is incentivized to seek the maximum legal compensation possible for your injuries. Since they are paid from a percentage of your final compensation, they receive a higher fee if you do too.
And in the unlikely event the case is unsuccessful, the client owes nothing. The attorney will take their fees from the client’s compensation if the case is won. In other words, you have absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain by hiring a personal injury attorney.
Finally, the percentages should be clearly stated in the representation agreement you sign when you become a client. If you’re unsure about anything in that agreement, don’t hesitate to ask questions. By including the percentages in the agreement, you avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
The Dominguez Firm Has Over 35 Years of Experience Helping Accident Victims
Hopefully this guide has given you a better idea of how to choose a personal injury law firm for your accident injury. Understanding relevant laws, calling several firms and seeing how they respond should help you make an informed decision on the right law firm and personal injury lawyer for you. Don’t forget to ask the right questions and understand their payment structure before proceeding.
The Dominguez Firm has over 35 years of experience and an impressive 96%* success rate representing injured clients. We have the resources and leverage to see your case through to a successful end. Not too many personal injury law firms can say the same. Don’t wait, call us today for a free consultation at (800)818-1818.
My experience was good. They made sure to kept me in the loop and made sure to let me know what was going on the whole time. My mom has used other attorneys and this experience was beyond better. I would definitely recommend them!
— Ashley Magana
The attorneys were always available and answered my questions. I would recommend them to anyone. Zoe is the best!
— Janet Salazar
My experience with The Dominguez Firm and the attorneys was really good. They were very informative and always returned my calls.
— Jocelyn Gonzalez