In a metropolitan area as sprawling and populated as Los Angeles, it’s no surprise how often accidents of every kind occur – from car crashes on residential streets to poorly maintained the property at the mall, to errors made by doctors to defective products sold by businesses. Many of the victims of these accidents take them in stride and accept them as facts of life.
However, there are times when these accidents result in injuries and a loss of income one way or another. Often, no action will be taken, but it is in your best interest to file a civil lawsuit against the responsible party to pursue legal compensation for your damages.
The reasons are simple. For one, the amount of evidence required to successfully win a civil lawsuit is much less than that which is required to win a criminal case. Further, the lawsuit may not even make it to the courtroom – many insurance agencies choose to settle out of court prior to a date for a sum of money to be used for the specific expenses that were racked up.
A crucial reason a civil lawsuit is worth your time is that you seldom have to spend your time fighting and negotiating. Personal injury lawyers are eager to take your case and almost always do so on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t get paid if they lose and will take a cut of the settlement if they win.
“Civil lawsuits are a way to ensure that you will get the coverage you deserve if you were in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence,” says Farid Yaghoubtil, founder of Downtown
LA Law Group.
What Kind of Coverage Can You Expect from a Civil Lawsuit?
The types of compensation you can expect vary from case to case, and it will be up to your attorney to win you the maximum value, whether in a settlement or in a verdict. As it stands, you will be pursuing monetary compensation to cover the damages that accrued from the accident.
First and foremost, the medical bills that you owe after receiving treatment will be considered; they are usually the most expensive part of the lawsuit, as medical treatment is not cheap. An extensive stay at the hospital, numerous kinds of medication, surgery (and all the accompanying fees, like the anesthesiologist’s fee), and the ensuing physical therapy sessions can rack up costs extremely quickly and be very daunting. Thus, the defendant can be made to pay off these debts in full.
Depending on the type of accident, you may also have suffered some loss of or damage to your property, such as your vehicle or various personal items. A car accident, for instance, usually involves a fair amount of compensation for property damage, which will cover repair costs to the car.
Further, you may have been hurt or unable to travel to work for a number of reasons, resulting in missed days and lost income. This income is, of course, extremely important, as it allows you to pay rent, bills, and other expenses; missed days at work can result in a large loss of wages. As such, these missed wages can be reimbursed by the defendant.
Moreover, there are certain damages called pain and suffering damages that are handed out to alleviate the mental and emotional traumas associated with the accident. Some victims have suffered anxiety and panic attacks after car crashes, while others may suffer PTSD and psychological scarring from assault and battery cases. A talented lawyer can even bring you pain and suffering damages worth more than medical expenses!
Of course, it can be alluring to sue for any injuries you receive, but a lawyer may not take your case if you don’t have enough evidence or if the value of your case is low.
How the Value of Your Case Influences a Lawyer’s Decision
Generally, more extensive injuries with more impact will yield larger settlements. If the injuries took a while to heal and caused you to miss out on work, or prevented you from returning to your job, your case could be worth more than one where you healed up within a week and we’re back to work almost immediately.
If the value of a case is disproportionate to the amount of time it would take to win, your lawyer may very well drop the case or advise you to seek help elsewhere. In the end, you may go through a lot of stress and waste time trying to secure a paltry sum.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that although there may have been potential for serious injuries, such as with a defective vehicle’s brakes, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit unless damages happened.
Deciding on a Lawsuit
Regardless of all the circumstances, many people still may not know if it’s in their best interest to file a civil claim. To alleviate this, many law firms offer free consultations and legal advice to interested or curious individuals. Clients can call and ask to set up a meeting with an attorney or simply be transferred to his line, and they can get professional advice without paying any money.
In the end, it will be entirely up to you whether or not you should take legal action, but you should be aware that you don’t have to go through with it alone – there’s always an attorney available and willing to help.
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