When someone suffers any type of personal injury, they may feel alone. Feelings of isolation are common in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
Moreover, in Southern California, victims of personal injury accidents deal with financial hardship, medical expenses, missed work, physical pain, and emotional distress.
Thankfully, you may seek justice in court by filing a lawsuit against the negligent person to recover financial damages for your losses.
It’s important first to have your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney in Orange County. During your appointment, you and your attorney will talk about your injuries, the evidence, and your potential claim. At Beckerman Anderson, our Orange County personal injury lawyers assist victims in the immediate aftermath of an accident and walk through all legal options for your case.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about what to expect during a personal injury lawsuit in Orange County.
California Civil Law For Personal Injury Claims
First and foremost, it’s vital to keep California civil law in mind when you’re considering a personal injury claim. Accident victims in California have the right to seek compensation under the law, but only within certain time limits.
People who sustain bodily injuries in an accident often have two years from the date of the incident in which to submit a claim for financial compensation. If you fail to submit your claim within that timeframe, you may forever waive your right to receive compensation.
There are certain exceptions to California’s two-year statute of limitations. For instance, in circumstances when the government is at fault, the statute of limitations may be lengthened.
As always, a lawyer will ensure your claim is submitted on time if you contact them soon after an accident.
What Happens During a Personal Injury Claim?
Once you’re aware of the California legal system’s basic time constraints for filing, there are a few more necessary steps in getting a case to trial. Among them are:
- Legal paperwork filing
- Evidence-based discussion (the legal process of discovery)
- Participating in pre-trial hearings and motions
- Options for negotiation and, ultimately, settlement
Selecting Jurors For Personal Injury
If a trial is imminent, the first step is to choose a jury. You may hear attorneys and judges use the term “voir dire” to describe this procedure.
A judge will often preside over the selection of a jury. Next, the lawyers for both sides will conduct interviews with prospective jurors to see whether or not any of them are susceptible to prejudice.
What Are Opening Statements in a Trial?
From there, lawyers for both the plaintiff and the defendant will make brief opening comments before the judge.
To win a personal injury case, it is usually up to the plaintiff’s attorney to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent (they violated their “duty of care“) and that the plaintiff suffered significant harm as a result. This is why the attorney representing the plaintiff always goes first in making an opening statement.
The defense attorney’s opening statement comes next. Their duty is to counter the plaintiff’s claims on behalf of their client.
Testimony and Examination of Witnesses
The attorney representing the plaintiff will typically be the first to bring witnesses to the stand. They may also show the court and jury whatever evidence they have collected. The witness must first swear to disclose the truth under oath.
In direct examination, the plaintiff’s counsel asks the witness questions. And in turn, the counsel for the defendant has the right to cross-examine the plaintiff’s witness. Cross-examination is when the defense questions the witness in an effort to discredit their evidence.
Following the conclusion of the defendant’s cross-examination, the witness may be subjected to re-direct interrogation by the plaintiff’s counsel. Once that’s done, the defense counsel calls in his or her witnesses to testify. This process continues until both sides have called all witnesses.
Summary Arguments in Personal Injury Trials
Each side’s lawyers will summarize their case during closing arguments. During closing arguments, lawyers for both sides also present their last arguments to the court and jury. Oftentimes, attorneys will go back to review and summarize the case’s evidence and exhibits.
The attorney for the plaintiff presents their closing arguments, and then the counsel for the defense does the same. After the defense counsel has made their case, the plaintiff’s attorney may respond.
The verdict is heavily influenced by the closing arguments presented to the judge. This is one of the many reasons why choosing an attorney dedicated to fighting for your best interests is so important.
Reaching a Verdict in a Personal Injury Case
Finally, the judge will give the jury a set of instructions to follow before reaching a judgment. The jury will use these instructions as a guide to determine whether or not the defendant was at fault under the law.
Thus, the jury now begins its first round of deliberations to assess whether or not the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The time required to execute this task might range from a few hours to many weeks or months.
No matter the circumstances of the case, the jury’s verdict must be unanimous before it can be presented to the judge. The judge announces the decision and seals the judgment written by the victorious side.
The judge can declare a mistrial if the jury cannot agree on a verdict. A new jury will be selected, or the case will be thrown out.
Contact an Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer
The causes, severity, and possible outcomes of accidents involving personal injury vary widely. However, the same kind of issues arise in many personal injury claims.
When you or a loved one has endured any type of injury-causing accident, it’s vital to consult with experienced, qualified lawyers to ensure you safeguard your rights. Once you meet with our team of injury accident attorneys at Beckerman Anderson, you may find that you’re eligible for financial compensation to cover things like medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, and emotional distress.
Call 949-409-4242 to speak with one of our Orange County personal injury lawyers and have your case evaluated at no cost to you.