Small businesses, individuals, and home owners are often sued in personal injury litigation. Small businesses are most often sued as a result of a slip and fall, individuals are most often sued as a result of an automobile accident, and homeowners are most often sued for some alleged defect which resulted in a slip and fall.
The Law Offices of Edward Misleh, APC is a Sacramento law firm, located in Sacramento, California that practices personal injury law. We represent clients in Sacramento, California and clients in Northern California with services they need and deserve when addressing injuries suffered from an auto accident or slip and fall due to another party’s negligence. Call now our Lawyer Hotline. We offer a free consultation and no upfront fees. We get paid only when we settle your case. Call now 916-443-1267 for your free consultation.
Personal Injury Claim
Your personal injury claim lawsuit will either settle or will be set for trial. The following are some of the events that will occur when parties attempt to settle their personal injury claim.
Photographs & Witnesses
Photograph the accident scene where your personal injury claim occurred. Be sure to take down contact information for any witnesses who was present.
Contact Your Insurance Carrier
If you are involved in a personal injury claim you should contact your insurance carrier. If you are the defendant (the person who caused the accident) and do not have insurance coverage or if coverage is rejected, you should hire an attorney to defend the action. After answering the complaint, the defense attorney should serve the plaintiff’s attorney with interrogatories, requests for production, and sometimes requests for admissions. Interrogatories and requests for production are forms of discovery which allow the defense attorney to “discover” what the plaintiff knows and what relevant documents the plaintiff possesses.
For instance, in the typical personal injury case, the defense will receive medical authorizations from the plaintiff, a list of witnesses, and the plaintiff’s version of events.
Evidence for Your Personal Injury Claim
Your defense attorney will obtain plaintiff’s (the person injured) past medical records, any worker’s comp report, and any social security disability. If the case is an automobile accident case, the defense attorney will also obtain a police report from the police department investigating the accident.
Personal Injury Claim Depositions
Upon reviewing the plaintiff’s medical records and police report and upon telephoning witnesses, it is sometimes then possible to settle a personal injury claim without the need of deposing the plaintiff, particularly if the claim is small, therefore not justifying the lawyer’s fees in attending a deposition. However, if the claim is large, if the plaintiff’s medical records indicate that the injury could have been pre-existing, or if liability is in dispute, the defense will then have to depose the plaintiff and any other relevant witnesses.
Personal Injury Claim Settlement Offers
One useful tool is the California Civil Code 998 offer or the corresponding Federal Rule 68 offer. These offers are settlements made to the plaintiff as long as liability is not in dispute. These offers allow the defense to offer a certain amount to settle the case and if the plaintiff does not accept, the plaintiff is then required to pay the defense’s costs (including the costs of the deposition) if the plaintiff is not awarded a larger amount at trial. If during the course of the deposition, it becomes apparent that the “998” of “Rule 68” offer was too low, the defense can always serve another, higher offer.
If liability is disputed, the defense should use the deposition as a source for quotes to be used in the upcoming motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment motions seem to have higher rates of success in dram shop actions (suits where a bar is being sued for allegedly serving alcohol to an obviously-intoxicated patron prior to an accident) and in slip and falls allegedly caused by failure to remove ice and snow. If the court grants summary judgment, the case comes to an end although these decisions are often appealed which in the end may lead to more attorney’s fees than the case would have been worth if settled earlier.
If the court does not grant one party’s request for a summary judgment, the personal injury claim will then usually go to a mediator (usually an experienced personal injury attorney) who will attempt to get both parties to settle the case by arriving at a settlement figure between any offers and counteroffers. If settlement still does not occur, the parties will then have to prepare for trial by submitting to the court motions in limine (requests that the court keep out certain evidence or testimony), exhibit lists, witness lists, proposed jury instructions, etc. Even at this point, it should be remembered that over 90% of cases settle prior to trial. This is probably so, because once the case reaches the jury, there is no predictability as to what a given jury may do, particularly if the jury is allowed to consider punitive damages.
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