A Comprehensive Guide on Personal Injury Compensation - Adamson Ahdoot

California Legal Blog

Your Personal Injury Compensation Guide: 10 Frequently Asked Questions

After experiencing an accident, you may wonder what kind of personal injury compensation you can receive. While every case is unique, some general trends and limits under the law can help you figure out what to expect. This personal injury compensation guide explains what constitutes a personal injury case and answers 10 of the most frequently asked questions. It covers car wreck claims and other types of cases that fall under personal injury. 

What is a Personal Injury?

Personal injury law grants an injured individual the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit to receive a legal remedy (damages) for all the losses they suffered from an accident, such as physical harm, property damage, and economic losses.

What Situations Are Considered Personal Injury Cases?

Various situations necessitate a personal injury claim, but the following are the most common instances:

  • Accidents. Examples of accidents include slip and fall incidents, car accidents, dog bites, and medical malpractice. These incidents are usually caused by individuals who act in a negligent and careless manner, causing harm to another person. 
  • Defective Products. Using defective and unreasonably dangerous consumer products, vehicle components, and medical devices may lead to injury or death. Those injured by a defective product may file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
  • Intentional Acts. Battery and assault, and other intentional torts are examples of intentional conduct by an individual that harms another person. 
  • Defamation. An individual may file a civil lawsuit if a person’s defamatory statement has harmed them.

When to File for a Personal Injury Claim

Accident victims who have acquired bodily injuries can file a claim for damages within two years after the incident. You are legally entitled to file a lawsuit against the responsible party if you’re severely injured or have lost assets.

California isn’t a no-fault state. Instead, they follow a “Pure Comparative Negligence” system, which states that if an individual is 99% responsible for the accident, the injured party is only 1% at fault. Each party involved in the accident is only responsible for their percentage of fault.

The party responsible for the accident may recover damages, even if they’re at fault, but the state will deduct compensation according to their percentage of fault.

How Do You File a Personal Injury Claim?

Though no two accidents are the same, there are basic steps to take when filing a personal injury claim:

  • Seek medical help. Don’t delay seeking medical treatment, even if you don’t feel any immediate symptoms after the accident. It may be disadvantageous for you to forgo medical treatment when seeking compensation, as the other party may use this against you to call into question the extent of your injuries.
  • Gather information about the incident. Keep medical records, photographs of the damage (if possible), invoices from medical treatments and doctor appointments, and proof of lost wages. 
  • Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Though you can settle small personal injury cases on your own, major accidents may necessitate calling a personal injury lawyer to help you recover damages. 
  • Set up a claim. You and your attorney will need to inform the responsible party and their insurance company that you intend to file a claim. 
  • Negotiate a settlement. Your attorney may appeal for compensation to the responsible party and their insurance company before or after filing a claim. 
  • Reach a settlement. If you and the responsible party reach a settlement you’re happy with, you and your attorney can accept the offer.  But if the other party does not present a viable offer, you can proceed with filing a lawsuit to recover the necessary compensation.
  • File a lawsuit. This process entails filing a complaint for damages that details your claims and how much money you want to recover. Both parties will negotiate, and you may be asked to give a deposition. When the case goes to trial, the jury and court will weigh the evidence and contested issues to decide how much compensation you’ll be awarded.
person applying a bandage on another person
Personal Injury entails more than just getting treated.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Cases

1. How Much is a Personal Injury Case Worth? 

The value of your personal injury case depends on the severity of your injuries and the type of your personal injury claim. If your injury resulted from a car accident, medical malpractice, or a slip-and-fall accident, the compensation for your injuries varies widely.

Car Accidents

The value of a car accident personal injury claim is often, as a practical matter, limited to the amount of liability insurance carried by the at-fault driver. In an ideal world, you should be able to recover the full amount of your damages, including economic and non-economic damages.

Dog Bite Incidents

The compensation received from a dog bite accident case depends on certain factors, such as the severity of the dog bite injuries and the party at fault’s awareness of their dog’s aggressiveness.

Premises Liability

The average settlement for a premises liability claim in California depends on the severity of the physical injuries and economic damages. Your compensation may be higher if the property owner clearly failed to secure the area and if the accident could have been preventable.

2. What are the 3 Types of Damages?

After an injury, you may qualify for compensation for three types of damages below:

Economic Damages

Economic damages allow you to reimburse costs you incurred due to the injury. Examples of economic damages include:

  • Loss of use of property
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Costs of repair or replacement
  • Loss of past and future earnings
  • Loss of employment or business opportunities
  • The economic value of domestic services

Non-Economic Damages

Pain and suffering damages may compensate for your ongoing pain from physical injuries, such as back pain, headaches, broken bones, nerve damage, or paralysis. Non-economic damages are intangible losses with no specific value, such as pain and suffering.

Below are some examples of non-economic damages:

  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are awarded to punish unusually egregious behavior by the responsible party, such as gross negligence and malice. Only a judge or jury awards them after a judicial process, and they are quite rare.

The amount of punitive damages is not directly related to your injury, but instead to an amount sufficient to act as a punishment on a particular defendant.


3. How is the Settlement Amount Calculated?

It’s important to remember that a settlement is a compromise. By settling, you avoid the time, cost, and emotional drain of going through a lengthy court case. You receive compensation sooner and have access to the funds you need to continue your treatment and get on with your life.

However, when agreeing to a settlement amount, you should never expect to receive an amount equal to your best possible outcome in court. The other party is not motivated to agree to that. They may as well go to court. A settlement is calculated to be between your best outcome and the other party’s best outcome.

4. Is There a “Formula” or “Calculator” To Quantify How Much I’ll Get in a Personal Injury Case Before Speaking to an Attorney?

You may find plenty of personal injury settlement worksheets or calculators online. However, the information you receive from them varies and may not be reliable. 

Many factors go into determining the amount of your compensation, including the other parties’ insurance limits, the type and extent of your specific injuries, and other circumstances around the car wreck, such as whether you were partially at fault. 

This kind of calculation is exactly what a personal injury attorney can assist you with.

Can a Plaintiff’s Actions (Or Inaction) Affect Their Compensation?

Your personal injury payout may be reduced based on the number of actions (or inaction) you take during and after a car accident or other personal injury.

Shared Fault for the Accident

If you share some fault for causing the accident, compensation may be reduced or even totally barred in some states. 

For example, they would likely be at fault if another car ran a red light and hit your car. However, if you were driving at an excessive speed and flew through the intersection the moment it turned green, you might also be held partially at fault.

Failure to Mitigate Damages

After you are injured, you have a legal duty to get the injury treated and make sure it doesn’t get worse. If you fail to do this, a court may decide that the at-fault party is not responsible for the full amount of your damages.

6. How Are Wrongful Death Damages and Settlements Different?

Proof of fault is the same in wrongful death cases as in other personal injury cases, but the damages that can be collected are somewhat different. 

The survivors, or the deceased person’s heirs, can collect economic, non-economic, and (potentially) punitive damages, but the economic and non-economic damages are measured differently. 

They are focused on the survivors’ losses, both financial and otherwise, rather than the deceased person’s losses.

7. Are There Any Outside Factors From the Case That Might Affect Your Settlement or Compensation?

Several outside factors may affect the amount of your compensation. For one, the laws in every state are a bit different, and some may have limitations on the amount you can collect. 

Also, if you have any liens against your judgment, usually from medical bills related to the car wreck, those will be taken from your compensation.

If your case is weak or difficult to prove, you may have to consider taking a lower settlement rather than risk going to trial and losing. One example is if you do not have good witnesses to support your case. 

Suppose you and the other driver have different explanations of how the wreck happened, and you do not have any witnesses or only an unreliable witness. In that case, it may be more difficult to prove that you are telling the truth.

8. How is Compensation Usually Divided?

When your case pays out, either through settlement or a court judgment, your compensation will first be used to pay your attorneys’ fees, the costs of pursuing your case, your medical bills, and any liens against your judgment. You will take home any remainder.

Attorneys in personal injury cases usually work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they are only paid something once you receive your compensation through the claim.  

In exchange for working without upfront payment and taking the risk that it never pays out, their fee is typically somewhere between 30% and 50% of the total payout, depending on the state, the type of claim, and other factors.

Sometimes the attorneys will also initially cover any costs to pursue the claim. But, that will also need to be paid back from your compensation. That includes court filing fees, expert witness costs, and fees for getting copies of medical records.

9. How Long Does the Process Take?

The length of time the process takes can vary widely. If the case is fairly straightforward and a settlement agreement can be reached, it may settle in less than a year. However, even if the case does end up settling, it could take considerably longer.

Negotiating the best possible settlement for the insurance can sometimes require fully (or almost fully) preparing the case for trial. Insurance isn’t going to just take your word for how bad your injuries or damages are. You (or your attorney) will likely have to marshal all your evidence to prove the damages.

If a case cannot settle and must go to court, it is not uncommon for the full process to take 2-3 years. Even after you are fully prepared for trial, your case is subject to the scheduling and delays of the court.

10. Will my Case go to Court?

Most cases do settle before going to trial. Although, it is common for the settlement to happen on the eve of trial. It is impossible to know for sure whether your case will go to trial. However, a personal injury attorney can advise on whether a settlement is likely in your case.

Why Choose Adamson Ahdoot?

With over 100 years of combined legal experience as a full-service civil litigation firm, we have successfully set the golden standard with the resources and expertise of a larger one in the industry.

We proudly serve a diverse clientele with their car accident cases, dog bite incidents, premise liability cases, and other personal injury cases.

Our philosophy depends on putting people first. At Adamson Ahdoot, we walk the line between aggressive advocacy and unwavering client support.

Seek a Personal Injury Attorney in California

Are you currently dealing with a personal injury case? Let experienced lawyers handle your case. At Adamson Ahdoot, we thoroughly review your situation to build a solid case. We want to ensure that you get proper legal representation.

Talk to a licensed personal injury attorney at Adamson Ahdoot today. We offer free consultations in English or Spanish. 

Feel free to contact us for other inquiries not tackled in this guide. Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation with a premier injury attorney.

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