Being hurt in an accident is already a horrific experience, but it can be more overwhelming and confusing when you are injured while visiting California.
As a non-resident, you may not be familiar with the laws, court procedures, and other legal matters governing personal injury claims.
Plus, the distance can be an issue when you are attempting to pursue the responsible party to enforce your right to compensation.
The need for an experienced California personal injury lawyer is even more acute, but it may be helpful to review a summary of what happens if you are hurt as a visitor.
Filing a Claim with an Insurance Company
As is likely the case in your home state, you would pursue your claim for compensation with the person or entity responsible for your injury; in most cases, you would initiate the process through the insurance company that provides coverage for that person or entity.
For example, if you were hurt in a car accident, you would seek compensation through the negligent driver’s insurer. In a slip and fall incident, you would file your claim with the insurance provider that covers the owner or occupier of the premises.
Once you file your claim with the insurance company or claims representative, their personnel will review the information and support documents to determine whether you:
- Provided sufficient information that their insured was at fault in the injury-causing accident; and,
- Supported your claim with proper proof of your injuries and damages.
Because insurance representatives prioritize the company’s interests, not yours, you can expect them to heavily scrutinize these two factors. When attempting to settle your claim, they may attempt to exploit weaknesses in your case and look for reasons to offer a low-ball amount. If you cannot reach an agreement to settle your claim, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in California’s court system.
Important California-Specific Laws
Even though your personal injury attorney will take the lead in navigating the legal system, there are two key legal doctrines in California that you should know because of their impact on your rights.
- California has a statute of limitations that requires you to file a personal injury lawsuit against a person or non-public entity within two years after the date you were hurt. If you fail to sue the responsible party in court within this time, you can never recover compensation for your losses. There are only rare exceptions, so it is essential to act quickly after an accident. CAUTION: if your claim and a potential suit are against a governmental entity of any kind (state, federal, local), different rules apply. Cases can be barred if the required action is not taken in as little as six months. In such situations, get legal assistance promptly.
- The law of comparative negligence applies in California, so your compensation may be reduced if you are somewhat blameworthy in the accident that caused your injuries. Your shared fault would be based upon a potential jury’s finding as to the percentage of your own actions, or inactions led to the accident.
Discuss Your Claim with a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney in California
You may have rights to recover compensation if you were injured in a California accident, regardless of whether you were visiting, or live here. Due to the many and complex laws that determine the outcome, it is wise to retain the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at GJEL Accident Attorneys to fight for your rights and handle your claim locally.
Please contact us to schedule a consultation at our offices in Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, or other convenient locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach us at (925) 253-5800 or toll-free at 1-855-508-9565.