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Understanding what happens in a personal injury lawsuit in California can significantly improve your chances of recovering compensation for your losses after an accident. To sue for injuries, you must file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the party who caused you harm, engage in discovery, and provide medical records and expert opinions. If you cannot settle the case, you may need to go to trial. Making sure you complete all the necessary steps can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to recover from your injuries.

Our personal injury attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and maximize your settlement. If you have been injured, contact the Kuvara Law Firm at 1-800-4-INJURY for a free consultation.

What Is Considered a Personal Injury in California?

In California, a personal injury is any physical or emotional damage caused to you by another party. Regardless of whether the at-fault party caused the injury intentionally or negligently, you can file a lawsuit asking for compensation.

Although the personal injury claims process begins when you or your personal injury lawyer files a claim with the insurance company or a lawsuit with the court, your first step after an accident should be to seek medical care.

If your injuries were caused by a motor vehicle crash, our attorneys recommend four things to do after a car accident. These include 1) making sure you and your passengers are safe, 2) documenting the accident by taking pictures, 3) calling the police, and 4) seeing a doctor. You should also make sure that your doctor is documenting all of your injuries and their causes.

What Are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases?

The following types of personal injury cases are some of the most common:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Traffic in California is brutal. The average commuter in the Los Angeles area spends over 100 hours in the car every year. It comes as no surprise, then, that motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury cases.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider injures someone because the provider did not use the level of care that a doctor would be expected to use in the same or similar circumstances. A doctor or nurse may commit medical malpractice by failing to prescribe the right medicine or dosage. Any injury that results from medical negligence can be the basis for a claim.

Wrongful Death

Any personal injury claim can become a wrongful death claim if the victim dies because of the injuries. In California, you can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of a victim if you are the surviving spouse, domestic partner, child, or other minor child who depended on the deceased for financial support. A personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation in a California wrongful death claim.

Premises Liability or Slip and Fall Cases

The owners and operators of public establishments must ensure that their buildings are safe for guests and other people on the premises. Property owners must repair any dangerous conditions they know about or should have known about. At the very least, property owners must warn people of the condition. If a dangerous condition causes your injuries, you can begin the personal injury claims process to recover damages.

Other Types of Personal Injury Cases

Although most personal injury claims fall under the categories listed above, it is almost impossible to list all possible personal injury claims. Some examples include:

  • Animal bites and attacks
  • Burn injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Food poisoning
  • Aviation accidents
  • Boating accidents

A personal injury attorney can help you determine what type of personal injury claim you have and what type of compensation you can expect to receive.

Steps in Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California

There are many steps in the personal injury claims process. If you are not familiar with the legal process, the steps in a lawsuit can be overwhelming and discouraging. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the process.

Complaint and Answer

The first step of any lawsuit is filing the complaint with the court. In the complaint, your personal injury attorney explains what types of injuries you sustained and what caused your injuries. Your attorney will list the person or company that caused your injuries as the defendant. The complaint should also include a prayer for relief in which your attorney asks for monetary compensation for your injuries.

When the defendant receives your complaint, he or she has thirty days to respond and admit or deny the allegations outlined in the complaint.


Once the complaint and answer have been filed, you enter into the discovery process. Both you and the defendant get to ask questions to find out everything you can before you go to trial. There are several ways you can gather information from the other side:

1.      Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions that one party sends to the other party. The responding party answers the interrogatories in writing.

2.      Document Production. Attorneys on either side can send written requests for documents pertaining to your injuries and what caused them.

3.      Depositions. Depositions are when your attorney or the defendant’s attorney asks a witness questions in person. The witness answers the questions, or gives testimony, in front of a court reporter who records everything that is said.

Settlement Negotiations

After both sides have completed discovery, they usually try to settle the case before trial. Attorneys typically like to settle cases to avoid lengthy and expensive trials. Additionally, juries can be unpredictable, making a settlement more desirable than dealing with the uncertainty of a jury decision. Defendants have similar reasons for wanting to settle a case. Nationwide, as many as 95% of all cases settle before trial.


If you and the defendant are unable to reach a settlement, the next step in the personal injury lawsuit process is a trial. In a trial, both parties present their case to a jury. After both sides have presented their case, the jury decides if the defendant is at fault for your injuries and, if so, how much the defendant should pay you. If you or the defendant does not agree with the outcome of the trial, you can file an appeal, asking that the decision be overturned.

Finding a Personal Injury Attorney

Because the personal injury claims process can be so complicated, it is important to find a good personal injury attorney to help you. You may wonder what to look for in a personal injury attorney. One thing to consider is the attorney’s experience handling personal injury cases similar to yours. In California, the Kuvara Law Firm has years of experience in personal injury cases. Our personal injury attorneys can help you navigate the complicated steps in your personal injury case to ensure you recover maximum compensation for your losses.

Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

In a personal injury case, you are seeking monetary compensation for your injuries. You may be able to recover both compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are designed to place you in the position you were in before the injury occurred. Compensatory damages are divided into monetary and non-monetary losses. Monetary losses cover any expenses associated with your injury, such as:

  • Medical expenses. These can include costs for both past and future medical care.
  • Costs of living with a disability.
  • Lost wages. You may recover your lost wages resulting from your injuries, as well as any lost earning capacity resulting from your injuries.
  • Funeral expenses. In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of the victim can recover money to cover funeral costs.

Non-monetary losses are more difficult to calculate. Damages can include pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Pain and suffering damages attempt to compensate you for the physical and emotional distress the injury caused. Loss of consortium is damages your spouse can receive if your injury has caused a loss of companionship, assistance, or sexual relations.

Non-Compensatory Damages

In more egregious cases, you may be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for behavior that was especially outside the scope of normal behavior or was done with disregard for other’s safety.

How Is Compensation Calculated in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

There is no set formula to calculate damages in personal injury cases. However, you can begin to determine your damages by adding up your concrete expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages. From there, you may attempt to calculate your future expenses. You can use experts to help determine those future expenses.

Calculating a value for your pain and suffering can be more difficult. A personal injury attorney can help you determine what amount you can expect to recover for your pain and suffering based on similar cases.

If you have sustained a personal injury in California, contact our personal injury attorneys at Kuvara Law Firm, at 1-800-4-INJURY.

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