Things to Know Before Filing a Lawsuit

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February 19, 2021
Edward Smith

Lawsuits are Complex

The majority of car accident cases settle before a lawsuit is filed.  However, it is not unusual to have to file suit because the insurance company is being unreasonable with their settlement offer.  Once a lawsuit is filed, the pursuit of settlement or judgment becomes more costly and complicated.  Add to that the fact that the California court process, always crowded, has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, and it is clear that the period of time from filing a lawsuit to concluding the case can be a long, drawn-out process.  Enlisting the services of a skilled personal injury attorney will make the experience as uncomplicated as it can possibly be. 

Before a lawsuit is filed in your case, there are several things you should know.  

You Should Not Have to Pay Your Attorney Up Front

Most personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency basis.  This means that they will be paid at the end of the case, with a percentage of the settlement money.  The attorney will also front the costs of investigating and working the case and will be reimbursed those expenses from the settlement.  The amount that the attorney is ultimately paid will be spelled out in the fee agreement that you sign at the time the attorney is retained. 

The Party You Are Suing Must be Notified

Assuming you are not filing a lawsuit against a governmental agency, your personal injury lawsuit must be filed before the two-year anniversary of the injury.  After it is filed, the lawsuit must be properly served on the person or persons sued (defendants).  If the claim is against a governmental agency, action must be taken within six months of the injury.  Another reason to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer is to ensure that all deadlines are met, and legal rules are followed in order to preserve your rights.  

Watch the YouTube video about how to become a process server in California.

It’s Not Likely You Will Go to Trial

The vast majority of lawsuits are settled prior to trial, either through informal negotiations, mediation, or arbitration.  Most of the time it is in everyone’s best interest to settle a case before trial since taking a case to trial is incredibly expensive, and uses the court system’s limited time.   However, if an insurance company is being unreasonable and there is a lot of money on the line, sometimes the right move is to continue to trial. 

Your True Opponent is Usually a Large Insurance Company

While your lawsuit names the person that caused the accident and perhaps other individuals, it is the adjusters and attorneys employed by the defendant’s insurance company who will be deciding how much money to offer on your case.  Insurance companies are interested in keeping as much money in their accounts as possible.  They are very resistant to paying claims, regardless of the extent of your damages.  They will attempt to downplay your injuries.  A skilled attorney is aware of insurance company tactics and knows how to battle their bad faith practices.

You Cannot Get Blood from a Turnip

The first consideration when deciding to file a lawsuit is whether you will be able to collect damages.  For instance, if you file suit against a destitute driver who did not have insurance – even if you prevail – you may never be able to collect a penny.  Filing suit if there is no ability of the defendant to pay the damages is a waste of your money and energy.  Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you determine if a lawsuit is worth your time.

Merced Car Accident Lawyer 

Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a Merced, California car accident lawyer.  Insurance claims, whether or not they result in filing a lawsuit, can be complicated and frustrating.  Our injury lawyers are happy to answer your questions and provide free and friendly advice.  Contact us any time at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400.

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