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What Happens When An Accident Claim Goes To Court In California?

As Experienced By Prescreened California Accident Attorneys

A lot of personal injury claims in California settle out-of-court. However, if you have enough evidence, you might be able to compel a defendant to negotiate a settlement amount.

Unfortunately, some liable parties will be stubborn. They will continue to refuse to give your compensation for your injuries or trivialize your accident claim to lowball it. When this happens, going to court might be your only option.

That said, what should you expect from a California personal injury lawsuit? What is the timeline of the process? Here's what our prescreened California Accident Attorneys have to say:

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Finding a Lawyer and Receiving Medical Care

The most crucial action you can take following an accident is to seek medical attention immediately. Not only will this ensure that your injuries are promptly diagnosed and treated, but it will also document the injuries surrounding their occurrence. This can be immensely useful when you go after a claim for your losses in the future.

You can start the process of seeking a California Accident Attorney while you are receiving care for your injuries. A lawyer can defend your rights and inform you of your claim options.

Throughout this time, be sure to keep track of your medical expenditures. They will be combined with other pieces of evidence, such as lost wages and facts on diminished earning capacity, by your attorney to create a demand for compensation.

Doing Investigation On Your Personal Injury Claim In California

Once you retain a California Accident Attorney, they will start looking into your accident. This can entail gathering and studying police reports, witness accounts, medical records, and other types of evidence, depending on the specifics of your case. Even better, your lawyer might employ a private detective to look for more witnesses or proof, including security footage.

Your attorney will start doing legal research on your case simultaneously. They can then use this information to strengthen their case for compensation against the other party and your right to the total damages.

Negotiations For A Settlement And A Demand Letter

Your California Accident Attorney will make a demand letter to the at-fault party's insurance provider using the data they acquired during the investigation phase. A demand letter states:

  • The specifics of the incident

  • The legal justification for their insured's guilt

  • A demand for compensation

A settlement offer from the insurance company will probably be made in response, which usually starts the bargaining process.

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The insurance provider may refuse you fair compensation for your injuries in certain circumstances. This frequently happens when there is disagreement about who was at fault for the accident or when the insurance questions the extent of your injuries. Your California Accident Attorney should consider filing a lawsuit as the best line of action if this happens.

The case filing marks the start of the proper schedule for a California accident litigation. Following this, your attorney has between 30 and 60 days to serve the at-fault party. Finally, the defendant has 30 days from the service date to respond to the lawsuit.

The period following the filing of a lawsuit is in part regulated by the court's deadlines. These regulations will be explained to you by your auto accident attorney, along with how they could affect how quickly your California personal injury case is settled.

Discovery Process

The next phase of legal action is discovery, during which each side requests information regarding the other's case. Depending on the problems involved in your case and the number of witnesses, the discovery procedure may take a while.

Your California Accident Attorney may also consult with specialists during this period, known as the pretrial phase of litigation, to support your case.


Sometimes settlement talks carry on all the way through the preliminary hearings. Alternative dispute resolution, mediation, may be ordered by the judge presiding over the case if the parties cannot reach a settlement.

A neutral third party (often a retired judge or an accomplished attorney) evaluates the case and hears arguments from both parties during mediation. The mediator then seeks to assist the parties in coming to a settlement over the car accident. Between nine and eighteen months after a case is filed, mediation frequently takes place.

Personal Injury Trial

If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will be tried in a trial. The number of witnesses and the complexity of the dispute will determine how long the trial will go. It could endure for just one or two days or for two months.

Your California Accident Attorney will make an opening statement during the trial, followed by the defense lawyer. You will then have the chance to present evidence and summon witnesses. Direct examination by your counsel will be followed by a cross-examination by the defendant's attorney.

The defendant will next have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses. Any defense witness will be open to cross-examination by your attorney. Each party will next make its closing argument, asking the judge or jury to rule in its favor.

The judge will then read instructions to the jury regarding the applicable laws if it is a jury trial. After consideration, the jury will decide on a verdict. You can appeal the ruling in certain situations if the result is unfavorable.

Finally, your damages will be paid if you succeed at trial or during mediation. This often occurs 30 days after a verdict or mediation.

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