You were involved in a car crash in California, and now you want to know about bringing a personal injury claim, but you don’t know what a personal injury claim entails. First and foremost, seek appropriate medical care, and after you’ve done that, then contact somebody to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts. Sometimes the initial determination as to who’s at fault and who wasn’t at fault or what was seen, what was heard and who did what are in dispute. This is where somebody like me can help you, because we go in and investigate the facts, the circumstances of the case to find out what really happened. And once we’ve investigated those facts and we understand what happened, we gather all the information and we present that to the other driver’s insurance company. This usually begins a process of negotiations where we go back and forth.
In my office, no case ever settles without a client’s written permission to do so. If the case doesn’t settle and a lawsuit becomes required, then you’ll be consulted throughout the entire stage of the lawsuit, from the initial filing of the summons and complaint, all the way to to preparing the documents for trial. Once a case is filed with a lawsuit, then it begins the discovery process. This is a lot akin to the investigation process, but it’s done in a more formal setting. The lawyers are involved. Most of it’s done in written sworn statements or depositions or request for document or items or the other things to be produced and exchanged between the parties. But it still serves the same purpose and function as the investigative phase. Again, we’re learning and confirming facts that we know or may not already know so we can have a clear understanding of what actually did occur or what can be shown to have occurred.
Finally, after the discovery stage is complete we’ll have some attempt to resolve the case informally. There are many different vehicles for resolving the case informally. One of the most common vehicles is mediation. Mediation is a process where both sides come together with a neutral third party. They discuss the things they can agree upon, the things they can’t agree upon, they look at the pros and cons of each side’s case, and they come to a compromise – it is hoped – that fits both sides and resolves the case once and for all.
If the case doesn’t resolve in mediation, then a case will set for trial. Once the case is set for trial, the parties must appear at a certain date and time before court to explain their version of the facts, and either the judge or the jury will decide who has proven their case to the appropriate standard.