Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Questions about Accident Injuries
What is the statute of limitation in California in a personal injury case?
For adults it is two years from the date of the injury. You have to either settle the case or file a lawsuit to protect the statute of limitations. People under 18 years old (minors) get until their 20th birthday. There are many exceptions to these rules. If the defendant in your case is a California governmental entity, you must file a claim for damages with that specific governmental entity within six months of the accident date. The governmental entity rule applies to both adults and minors. In uninsured motorist cases, the statute is two years for both adults and minors. These rules are for accidents that happen in California. Other states may have different rules. Also, different rules apply for cases involving malpractice and fraud. In almost every category of case there are exceptions to the usual rules.
What happens if I have a severe injury and the person who caused my accident does not have enough insurance coverage to pay all of my damages?
After you have exhausted the insurance coverage you next look to the responsible person's assets. However, most people who don't have enough insurance usually don't have enough assets either. If the responsible person was in the course and scope of their employment when the accident happened, their employer would also be responsible. Most employers have high limit insurance policies. We also look for excess or umbrella insurance policies. There may also be other defendants and other theories of recovery. Serious injury cases allow us to investigate unusual or obscure theories of law in order to recover full value for our injured client.
If I fall and hurt myself on someone else's property, do they have to pay me for my injuries?
It depends on why you fell. To collect money damages, you will have to prove that the property owner was negligent. Common situations involve retailers allowing spills to remain on the sales floor after they learn about them. Other common slip/trip and fall situations usually involve uneven sidewalks, stairs, missing or detached hand rails, leaking refrigerated cases in supermarkets, and countless other unique situations. Each slip and fall has to be evaluated based on its individual facts. As in most cases, it always helps to get witnesses and to take photographs if possible.
If I caused the accident can I still collect for my injuries?
California has comparative negligence. That means if you were 25% at fault for an accident, you can still collect 75% of the value of your case. Therefore, the answer is yes, you can collect for your injuries even if the accident was partly your fault.
Who determines how the accident happened?
Usually this is accomplished through witnesses (including the parties to the accident) and an analysis of the physical evidence. In motor vehicle cases, there are usually police reports. Other situations are sometimes videotaped from surveillance cameras. Each case will present a different set of circumstances. As a general rule, collect as much information at the scene of the accident as you possibly can. Get names and other information from witnesses. If you have a camera take pictures if you think they will help you.
If an injured person is at fault, can he/she still collect?
Contributory negligence is negligence on the part of a plaintiff which, combining with the negligence of a defendant, contributes as a cause in bringing about the injury. Contributory negligence, if any, on the part of the plaintiff does not bar a recovery by the plaintiff against the defendant but the total amount of damages to which the plaintiff would otherwise be entitled shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the plaintiff.
What is a legal cause?
The law defines cause in its own particular way. A cause of injury, damage, loss or harm is something that is a substantial factor in bringing about an injury, damage, loss or harm.
How long before I will be compensated for my injuries?
In general terms, personal injury cases are governed by a 2 year statute of limitations. Although it is important to gather information concerning liability (fault) as quickly as possible, generally a lawsuit will not be initiated until after the injured party has finished receiving treatment for his or her injuries. Completion of treatment is important because it permits the attorney to better understand the full nature and scope of the client’s injuries, which then enables the attorney to better represent the client. In cases involving relatively minor injuries, we usually see about a 9 to 16 month time frame. Where more serious injuries have occurred, especially those that may have long-term implications, cases may take longer to resolve.
Can I see my own doctor?
Yes. As a matter of fact, it is preferable. However, if you do not have your own doctor, we can refer you to qualified, experienced, physicians who can address your specific needs – such as orthopedics, neurology, etc. The important thing is that if you are injured do NOT DELAY in getting checked out. The mere fact you may not be in immediate pain, does not mean you have not been injured.
Can I get money before my case is settled?
Many injuries result in missed work time. Further economic harm results from medical and regular monthly bills going unpaid. The good news is that, under certain circumstances, there may be a way to get money BEFORE your case is settled. There are private companies that advance money to injured parties. But the great news is that if you are advanced money by one of these companies and you are not victorious in your claim, you do NOT have to pay back the money you were advanced. These are private companies specializing in case advances. We are not affiliated with them nor do we receive any compensation from them. We answer this question here as a service because it is frequently asked during client interviews.
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If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation with Hamdam & Associates, please call 1 (866) 342-6326