Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Cases
If you have been injured or you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. At the Pasadena law firm of Ball, Bonholtzer & Evans, our experienced attorneys can help you determine if you have a case. If so, we can also fight for the maximum amount of compensation available. Call us at 626-817-6453 to set up a free consultation.
Below are some common questions we hear about personal injury matters in California. Please note that this information is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice. You should contact us directly to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Q. What does it cost to hire a lawyer?
A. We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that if our lawyers recover money for you, they receive a certain percentage as their fee. If they don’t recover compensation for you, they don’t get paid. You don’t owe us anything upfront. To learn more, schedule a consultation at a time that works for you.
Q. What kinds of damages can I pursue?
In California injury cases, there are two types of damages: Economic and noneconomic. Economic damages include all expenses related to the accident or injury such as:
- Medical bills
- Medical equipment
- Home and vehicle modifications due to the injury
- Lost wages
- Car repairs
You can seek compensation for both past and future expenses.
Noneconomic damages cover the intangible losses that result from an accident such as pain, suffering and disfigurement. In some cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages meant to punish the offender and set an example for potential future offenders.
Wrongful death cases involve slightly different economic and noneconomic damages. Family members can pursue compensation for expenses related to their loss as well as certain noneconomic damages such as loss of consortium/companionship.
Q. Can I collect money even if I’m partly responsible?
A. Generally yes. California allows injury victims to pursue compensation from other at-fault parties, even when the victims are also partly at fault. Under this “comparative negligence” standard, damages are apportioned in accordance with fault. For example, even if you were 99 percent at fault, you could still pursue money for the one percent that the other party was at fault.
Q. What’s the difference between intentional injury and negligence?
A. Intentional injury occurs when someone clearly means to cause harm. If your child has been bullied — emotionally or physically — that’s intentional. Negligence occurs when there’s an ordinary, required responsibility or “standard of care” that the culpable party failed to uphold.
Truck drivers, for example, have a responsibility to pay attention on the road. If a trucker fails to pay attention and causes an accident, it would be considered negligence.
“Strict liability” means the liability exists regardless of whether the injury was intentional or negligent. Certain cases — such as dog bites — involve this standard.
Q. What is the statute of limitations and how does it apply to my claim?
A. A statute of limitations is simply a deadline for filing a claim. These deadlines vary depending on the type of claim you have. They typically range from one to three years. If you miss a statute of limitations, you can no longer seek compensation, which is why it’s so important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident or injury.
If your previous lawyer missed a statute of limitations, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim.
Q. Do claims have monetary limits?
A. There is no cap on reimbursement for economic damages, but they must be documented. Future expenses must be based on reasonable estimates and may require expert testimony. Noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering) are generally up to the discretion of the jury. The major exception is medical malpractice cases, where the limit is $250,000.
Q. How long will my case take?
There’s no easy way to predict how long a personal injury case will take. As with most aspects of injury claims, much depends on the particulars of your case, including:
- The complexity of the claims involved
- The extent of your injuries
- The number of parties involved
- The willingness of those at fault to reach a reasonable settlement
When cases end up in court, they can take much longer, although the payout may be greater and therefore worth the wait.
When you enlist our help, part of our job is to walk you through the many considerations involved in each course of action — including the amount of time involved. Our lawyers can give you the information you need to make the right decision for your situation. We will stand beside you each step of the way, answer your questions, addressing your concerns and explaining what to expect on the road ahead.