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PERSONAL INJURY LAW IN CALIFORNIA

May 3, 2018

WHAT IS A PERSONAL INJURY?

A personal injury occurs when an individual has suffered physical or psychological damage that is not a result of his or her own actions. Although the most common type of legal personal injury claim involves traffic accidents, injuries resulting from tripping accidents, assault, wrongful death, medical malpractice, product defects and accidents while on vacation or holiday also may be legally pursued. If individuals can prove that they sustained personal injuries as a result of the negligence of another party, then they may be entitled to monetary compensation.

Because each state varies in its legal procedures, it is important for individuals to understand the specific procedures of the state in which they reside. Below is information on personal injury law in the State of California.

CAN I FILE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM WITHOUT A LAWYER IN CALIFORNIA?

Yes, however personal injury claims can be very complex so this is not the best decision in most cases. In fact, just hiring any lawyer is not recommended. This is because the court decisions and the laws in California are constantly changing. Therefore, hiring a lawyer who focuses on personal injury law specifically is the best decision because such lawyer is more likely to keep track of legal changes.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT?

Individuals have two years from the date of an accident to hire a lawyer and officially file a lawsuit in the State of California.

ON-THE-JOB VS. NON-WORK RELATED INJURIES

According to California law, in most cases on-the-job work-related injuries are to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Such insurance generally is paid by employers. If an employer maintains coverage and provide cares for a work-related injury, the injured employee may not file a lawsuit for such injury.

If an individual has become permanently disabled due to an on-the-job accident, the California court system can determine the extent and percentage of his or her disability. Individuals may be entitled to permanent disability pay along with payment for future medical expenses.

If non-work related injuries are caused by another party’s negligence, such as an auto accident or a slip and fall accident, California Civil Code 1714 provides the basis for individuals to file a lawsuit in order to prove negligence and recover damages.

California also is a pure comparative law state. This means that a jury or arbitrator is permitted to assign a percentage of fault to an injured party if such party contributed to their own injury. If a percentage of fault is assigned to the injured party, their judgment or settlement will be reduced by such amount. For example, consider the case where you get hurt, but are found to be 10% at fault. Your resulting judgment or settlement will be for 90% of what it would have been had you not been 10% at fault.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING AN ATTORNEY?

Hire an experienced, reputable lawyer to handle your claims. Specifically, you should hire a personal injury attorney rather than a general attorney. This is because California personal injury law is constantly changing due to new court decisions and new laws. Below are 5 things you should consider when searching for a lawyer:

  1. Individuals should seek out lawyers who are experts in their claim area. For instance, if an individual has been injured in an auto accident, then they should search for a lawyer with a significant amount of experience in auto accidents.
  2. Individuals should make inquiries about any and all lawyer fees. Generally, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they only receive payment if an individual wins a judgment or settlement.
  3. Individuals should ask to see proof of past successful negotiations.  This includes making sure that their prospective lawyer has experience dealing with insurance companies.
  4. Individuals should look for a lawyer who has trial experience. Although most personal injury claims are negotiated successfully out of court, the lawyer should be prepared to argue the claims in court.
  5. Individuals should make sure that they get along well with their lawyer as well as his or her staff. More often than not, individuals will be required to deal with their lawyer’s staff when their lawyer is not available.

Individuals should remember that with the help of a reputable, experienced lawyer, they should be able to receive the maximum compensation for their injuries.

Find more like this: Personal Injury

Online Reviews

“Amazing people, they had my claim for about a week before they were able to get my truck totaled out. Otherwise I would have been stuck with a truck that had heavy front end damage if they hadn’t stepped in to help me. I tried to deal with my insurance company myself for over a month and that got me nowhere, all I got was a massive headache and a messed up truck. They are very professional and act quickly on your claim. I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for help.”

Candy J.

2/9/2020

“I was in an accident and decided to call Wattel and York. After months of going to a Chiropractor, I finally felt better. When it came time for settlement, the insurance company was making an offer I wanted to accept, Mr. Wattel advised against it and felt the insurance company was shortchanging me. He recommended I file a lawsuit and that will get them to cave. Well, Dave filed suit, and sure enough, the insurance company increased their offer by $4,000! I am very satisfied with how my case was handled.”

Nardeasha S.

20/20/2020

“Wattel & York were flat out outstanding with my personal injury case. They made the process painless and kept in constant communication throughout the entire time. Any questions I might’ve had were promptly answered and detail oriented. They gave me crucial advice that I would’ve otherwise not been aware of. I couldn’t have asked for more from them. Put your trust in these guys, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks Wattel & York.”

Mattew P.

13/9/2020

“Thank you so much for all your hard work on our behalf! Thinking I could handle it on my own, I was originally reluctant to take my accident claim to an attorney. But I am SO glad I called you instead. Your people were always helpful, pleasant and responsive at every step along the way. You represented us with honesty and integrity and made a traumatic experience as painless as it could be. And best of all, you helped us get a settlement that was fair and far more than I could ever have negotiated on my own! I highly recommend Wattel &York to anyone who has suffered a personal injury.”

Cathy M.

“I was the passenger in a vehicle that was 'T- Boned' at an intersection in 2014. The issues of responsibility and recovery became a difficult and convoluted confusion. I really needed help. This Team at Wattel and York walked me patiently and encouragingly through difficult months, sorting through issues and finally arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. I especially want to name two great and encouraging "warriors" of Wattel and York who directed me along the way..Brian Torba and Melissa Patterson..to them and the whole team I say "Thank You" with heart felt gratitude. Sincerely, God Bless You.”

Robert G.

“Honesty. Integrity. Transparency. Partnership. Wattel & York brought all of these qualities and more to my accident case. I'd love to thank all of the team members who helped me with the process: David Guzman, who conducted the initial interview in my home, Aly Shomar-Esparza, who seamlessly guided me through paperwork and filings, Debbie Harrach, who conducted final review, paperwork revisions and scheduling, and Thomas Grisoni, who counseled me before and attended my deposition. I never felt alone during the arduous process and always knew there was a professional team looking out for my best interest. I highly recommend Wattel & York if you are unfortunately involved in an accident that was not your fault.”

Russ W.

“I was a passenger in a car that got t-boned a few years ago and got a huge gash. I didn't know a lot about lawyers, so I basically just picked one on the flip of a coin. I called Wattel and York and they explained everything, I went into the office and filled out paperwork. Got treatment on my gash over the time I worked with them, glad I did as it opened back up a couple times and bled. They did really good, got me the maximum amount of money, and made sure I was well taken care of. I was updated from time to time so that was good. The only thing I might change is I never got to thank or talk to my lawyer. I think it was because I was already used to dealing with the lady at their Glendale office so they just kept her as my point of contact. So it's okay, I'll thank them with a good review. The last thing I could say about them is months after I thought my case was over they called me and said they had another check for me for a few hundred dollars. Apparently, they negotiated with the hospital I went to after the accident. It was a nice surprise and shows they really had my interests in mind.”

Trent B.

“Wattel & York has been great for me in the past few years. I was involved in a really bad accident while I was on Active Duty in Yuma, Arizona and they have been patient with me every step of the way through a very long process. I would recommend them to anyone thank you for all your help.”

Levy G.

“Appreciate David taking the time to speak with me. He was most kind. From the front line with the receptionist, to him, the firm was a class act all the way around.”

Claire B.

“Dave Wattel represented me and my son on a Personal Injury case from a motor vehicle accident back in 2009. Jake P. handled my deposition and Dave did the Quarterbacking. The insurance company hired NFL referee Ed Hochuli's firm to try and deny our claim. But Wattel & York made it look as easy as Tom Brady on the football field. The result was more than acceptable and my son and I were compensated for our injuries and rehabilitation. Dave Wattel cares about his clients. If I ever find myself in a situation like this again, Wattel & York will be on speed dial!!”

Vince C.

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