Fresno Personal Injury Attorneys
Trusted Representation from a Local Injury and Accident Attorney
Accidents happen every day. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that accidents or unintentional injuries account for 39.5 million doctor’s office visits and 29.4 million trips to the emergency room each year. Many of these accidents are just that: accidents where nobody was at fault. However, in some situations, another person or entity’s negligence caused an injury or death.
If someone else caused your accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses through a personal injury lawsuit. California law allows victims of negligent or wrongful acts to recover money for their injuries, including both physical and emotional harm. You can also recover for financial losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity.
At Nunes Law, we represent clients throughout Northern California who have been hurt in all types of accidents. From our law office in Fresno, we help injury victims in Kings County, Kern County, Madera County, Fresno County, Tulare County and Merced County. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for our clients.
Types of Personal Injury Cases We Handle
Personal injury is a broad field of law that covers a range of practice areas. With more than 25 years of experience, we have the knowledge and skills to assist Californians who have suffered injuries. We handle personal injury claims involving:
- Car accidents
- Truck collisions
- Motorcycle crashes
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist claims (UM/UIM)
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Slip and falls (premises liability)
- Dangerous and defective products (product liability)
- Burn injuries
- Wrongful death
- Dog bites
The process begins with a free case evaluation. During this consultation, we will listen to your story, and advise you of your rights and options for pursuing a personal injury claim.
If you decide to hire our law firm, we will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case, and perform research on applicable case law. From there, we will draft and send a demand letter to the insurance company. In most cases, personal injury claims can be resolved through settlement, as opposed to going to trial.
However, if the insurer refuses to offer you a fair settlement, we will take your case to trial, where we will fight for your right to compensation. All of our personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing upfront, and won’t pay any attorney fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict at trial for you.
When Can I Sue Someone for an Injury?
In California, personal injury cases are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. To win a personal injury case, the victim (plaintiff) must demonstrate that the person who caused the accident (defendant) was negligent.
Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- Breach: the defendant breached (violated) that duty in some way.
- Causation: the plaintiff was injured as a result of that breach.
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses.
Consider a motorcycle accident case where a driver failed to check for motorcycles before switching lanes, and struck a motorcyclist, causing catastrophic injuries. All drivers in California have a duty to use care when operating a motor vehicle. This driver breached that duty by failing to check before changing lanes. The motorcyclist was injured because of this breach and suffered damages in the crash.
As of August 18, 2020, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within a certain time period, known as the statute of limitations. In most cases, a lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the injury (or when the injury was discovered). However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as when the wrongdoer is a government entity, or when the victim is a minor.
Recovering Damages in a California Personal Injury Case
Three types of damages are available in a California personal injury case: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. In most lawsuits, an injury victim will be limited to compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages).
Economic damages are meant to compensate a victim for their financial losses. They may include items such as lost wages, medical expenses, cost of future medical care, property damage, and reduced earning capacity. Pay stubs, medical bills, and other types of documents can often be used to prove economic damages.
Non-economic damages compensate victims for their intangible losses. They are often harder to prove because they are meant to cover injuries that don’t have a set financial value. These damages may include pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.
Finally, punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. They are reserved for cases where a defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. For example, in some auto accident cases involving drunk driving, a court may award punitive damages.
In many personal injury claims, an insurance adjuster will contact an accident victim to offer a settlement for their injuries. These offers are rarely sufficient to cover a person’s full losses. Instead, they are designed to minimize the amount of money that an insurer will have to pay on a claim while getting an injured person to give up their right to sue.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying out as much as they should on claims. A skilled Fresno personal injury attorney can level the playing field, taking on big insurance companies and their armies of adjusters and lawyers to get you the money that you are entitled to under the law.
What to Do After an Accident
After being injured, you may be frightened and unsure of what to do. The first and most important thing that you should do is seek medical attention for your injuries, even if you don’t think that you were seriously hurt. Getting prompt diagnosis and treatment is often critical to recovering from your injuries. It also is useful in a personal injury lawsuit, because it can establish that your injuries were caused by the accident.
You should also collect names and contact information for other people involved in the incident. For example, if you were in a pedestrian accident, you may request information from the driver of the car that struck you or talk to witnesses who saw what happened. You may even write down the names of businesses around the accident site that may have security cameras that could be used to prove what happened.
If you can, take pictures and/or videos of the scene. In car accident cases, try to get pictures of the damage to the other driver’s car(s) as you may not be able to locate them later. In slip or trip and fall cases, put the shoes and clothes in a safe place and do not wash them until consulting with an attorney. This may not always be possible, but it can help to show what happened. Accident reconstruction experts and other professionals may be able to use those pictures and videos to explain how you were hurt.
Do not admit fault to anyone, or give a statement to the other party’s insurance company without first seeking legal representation. Similarly, do not sign anything that an insurance adjuster gives you without consulting with a personal injury law firm. If you give a statement, say that you’re sorry, or sign a document, it could be used against you — and may undermine your case.
Finally, reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Most Fresno law firms offer free initial consultations on these types of cases. During this appointment, you can ask questions and get advice on how to proceed.
Personal Injury Claim Process
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 the 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.
Fresno Personal Injury Lawyer
Do I Really Need a Lawyer If the Insurance Company Is Offering Me a Settlement?
There are some situations where it may make sense to deal with the other party’s insurance company on your own, such as after a car accident that only involved property damage and no injuries. However, in most cases, retaining a Fresno personal injury lawyer will lead to a far more favorable outcome. In fact, according to the Insurance Research Council, people who are represented by an attorney recover three times as much as compared to people who represent themselves. A Study by The Insurance Research Council revealed injured people are generally more satisfied with the outcome of their case when they hire an attorney instead of going at it alone. May injured parties hire attorneys to get the involved insurance companies to respond, sadly this is often what is required to get progress on a personal injury claim or case.
Insurance companies are businesses whose profits are fueled by denying or minimizing claims. When an insurance adjuster reaches out to you to request information or offer you a settlement, their goal isn’t to make sure that you get the highest possible recovery for your injuries. They are working for their employer’s best interests. It is widely known in the insurance claims industry that a certain percentage of injured claimants will just give up if they get worn out with the delay in handling their claim. (From Delay, Defend & Deny, by Jay M. Feinman (http://delaydenydefend.com/)
In many cases, the settlement offered by an insurance company is far less than what you may need to fully recover from your injuries — and less than what you are entitled to under the law. These settlement offers also require you to give up certain rights, such as the ability to file a lawsuit in the future. A seasoned personal injury attorney will use their knowledge and experience to draft a demand for compensation that reflects the true amount of your losses, to negotiate a fair settlement, and to take your case to trial if necessary.
I Can’t Afford a Lawyer. Can I Still File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Most personal injury attorneys, including Nunes Law, work on a conditional or contingency fee basis. This means that instead of paying a lawyer up front, their fees are taken from any settlement or verdict at trial that you receive. This fee is typically a percentage of your recovery, and depends on whether you go to trial or not. If you don’t recover compensation, then you don’t pay any attorney’s fees.
There are a number of advantages to this type of fee arrangement. First, it makes legal representation affordable to everyone. People who are hurt in accidents don’t always have the funds to pay a lawyer out of pocket, especially if they are out of work and have mounting medical bills. Contingency fee arrangements allow you to level the playing field with big insurance companies, even if you don’t have a lot of extra money.
Second, these types of arrangements align your lawyer’s interests with your own. After all, they won’t get paid unless you do — and the amount that they are paid is based on how much money they get for you. This gives clients peace of mind in what can often be an incredibly stressful time.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
In California, legal actions are subject to a statute of limitations, which specifies the amount of time that a person has to file a lawsuit. For personal injury claims, the statute of limitations begins to run when a person knew — or should have known — of an injury. If you wait too long to file a lawsuit, then your claim will be barred.
Generally, personal injury cases have a two year statute of limitations. This means the person must resolve their claim or file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties before the second anniversary of the injury causing event, or when they should have discovered the injury causing event. In some cases, this statute of limitations may be tolled, or paused. This occurs in a number of different situations, such as when a person is under the age of 18, legally incompent, out of state, or even in prison. Once the condition that led to the tolling ends, then the clock starts running on the statute of limitations.
Some types of personal injury claims have different statutes of limitations. For example, most medical malpractice claims must be brought within 1 year of the date of injury (or when the injury was discovered). Claims against a government agency must usually be brought within 6 months of the injury.
Statute of limitations issues can be complicated. That is why it is important to consult with an experienced Fresno personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Your lawyer can ensure that the statute of limitations and other legal deadlines are met.
Making An Injury Claim While On Workers’ Comp.
So, you were injured on the job, caused by somebody else’s carelessness. Can you still make a claim against that person that caused the injury? The answer is yes. It’s just like any other claim, expect there’s an overlay with the workers’ compensation component.
The good news is, if you were injured on the job and workers’ compensation is involved, they will pay your medical bills, your lost wages, your temporary disability, any partial disability and even your mileage while you are seeking treatment for the harms and losses that you suffered on the job. Once that workers’ compensation case is resolved, or if the time to file the lawsuit has not yet come, you can still make a claim against the party that caused your harms and losses. The only caveat is that when that case settles you will have to reimburse workers’ compensation for the amount of benefits they paid on your behalf.
Five Ways to Ruin Your Personal Injury Case
Do you want to know five ways to ruin your personal injury case? Often times, people come to me, and they’ve basically ruined their entire personal injury case. How do they do it? One, they ignore their injuries and don’t seek proper medical care for the treatment that they need. Two, they give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company, which pins them down to that set of facts forever. Three, they sign a medical authorization allowing the insurance company to get all sorts of records – even non-medical records – pertaining to conditions completely unrelated to the crash, and five, they sign a release before all their harms and losses have been completely brought to the forefront.
Hurt in an Accident? We Can Help.
If you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, a trucking crash, a dog bite, an explosion, or any other type of accident, you are likely overwhelmed and wondering what to do next. You may be able to recover money for the losses that you have suffered, with the help of a skilled Fresno personal injury lawyer.
At Nunes Law, we represent clients who have suffered serious injuries, as well as individuals whose loved ones have died in accidents. We are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome. As our client testimonials show, our law firm is big enough to take on insurance companies, while small enough to offer personalized service.
We offer free case evaluations for all prospective clients, including phone consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 866-267-0367, or reach out online.
There is no fee if there is no recovery.
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