Personal Injury Tips & Guides 

The Legal Process of a Personal Injury Claim in California


November 24, 2022

3 min read

In California, the legal process to claim damages for accidents and personal injuries is really complex. A typical personal injury claim can range from motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls, workplace accidents, premises liability to medical negligence, and simple dog bites. The legal process of a personal injury claim also looks different from case to case. However, there are key similarities in the personal injury legal process common to all personal injury claims within the State of California.

Recommended Reading: 5 Steps to Take When You’re Involved In A Motor Vehicle Accident

First Steps To Take to Initiate Your Injury Claim in California

You’ve just had an accident and you’re hurt. If this is the first time you’re filing a personal injury claim against the person who harmed you, the legal process of initiating a personal injury claim can be a little intimidating. However, knowing the exact timelines and steps in a personal injury lawsuit will help you build a strong legal claim. It will help you get the highest possible amount of compensation from the person or business responsible for causing the injury. 

In this article, we are going to walk you through the steps in California’s personal injury legal process. We’ll explain what you can do in each of those steps to guarantee the validity and success of your injury claim. 

Getting The Right Legal Expert To Help You File Your Claim

Anyone seeking to file legal action for an accident claim should hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide them through statutory deadlines and requisite legal documentation (complaint and summons). As the very first step, a personal injury lawyer should conduct a preliminary investigation into the accident matter to decide which party is at fault. This is to determine whether the injury victim has a valid claim against the defendant. Quite simply, whether he/she has a right to sue the defendant. In the official court complaint, a plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that he suffered harm as a direct result of the defendant’s intentional or negligent act. Sometimes it is even possible to hold a defendant liable in damages for strict liability.

Under California’s Statute of Limitations (Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1), a plaintiff is generally given two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim. But the two-year limitation period does not start to run until the plaintiff becomes aware of the injury caused to him. As a rule, a plaintiff must file his personal injury claim before the limitation period is up. This is a crucial step in the process of a personal injury claim as any action filed after the limitation period will be treated as prescribed and be dismissed.

What Does A Personal Injury Lawyer Do First?

Before a personal injury lawsuit is filed, a personal injury lawyer will send a demand package to the at-fault party or their insurance company. By doing this, they are able to tap into the possibility of securing a fair and acceptable payout for injuries without having to go to court. Demand letters are sent to communicate an injury victim’s intention to sue for damages. However, the party at fault is not obligated to respond to demand letters. If he pays the compensation requested, the personal injury legal process ends then and there. A legal claim is filed only when the party at fault refuses to pay or fails to respond.

Photo by Saúl Bucio on Unsplash

The Final Steps of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

After filing, a personal injury lawsuit enters a pre-trial phase called the discovery, where both sides gather and review evidence to support their arguments in court. Filing an injury claim sets the stage for two major steps in a personal injury lawsuit: the personal injury settlement process and trial. 

In California, the legal process of a personal injury claim involves a procedure called court-ordered mediation, where parties are invited to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. If negotiations fall through, the case will proceed to trial. At the trial stage of a personal injury claim, each party will call witnesses and present their evidence to prove the fault or negligence of the other party. At the end of the trial, the judge or jury, as the case may be, will decide the outcome of the case and award the plaintiff an amount of compensation that they deem fit and appropriate in the circumstances.   

Meet DAS LAW LA, The Personal Injury Law Experts in California

DAS LAW LA is a law firm specializing in civil litigation. Over the years, Mr. Sarkesians spent his time representing and counseling numerous companies across a broad range of industries including retail stores, entertainment venues, security companies, restaurants, and universities. He regularly defended matters involving personal/catastrophic injury, motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, and products liability, before leaving a top nationally ranked insurance defense firm to start DAS LAW LA. 

Mr. Sarkesians utilizes his knowledge, experience, skill and reputation to represent the general public and aggressively pursue those who have caused harm. Over the course of his career Mr. Sarkesians has saved companies millions of dollars in litigation, and is now using that same knowledge to recover millions for those in need. Mr. Sarkesians’ practice further encompasses disputes arising out of the business context, such as partnership, shareholder and joint venture disputes, business and contractual torts.

After completing his first year at Southwestern Law School at the top of his class, Mr. Sarkesians transferred to Loyola Law School where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 2016 and began his legal career. He is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts throughout California. Prior to founding DAS LAW LA, Mr. Sarkesians worked at a nationally recognized insurance defense firm in Downtown Los Angeles.

Need A FREE Case Evaluation? Reach out to Mr. Sarkesians today for your complimentary case evaluation.

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