CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

At AutoAccident.com, our skilled attorneys have obtained successful case outcomes on behalf of our clients since 1982. Our legal team has the expertise and knowledge to negotiate settlements with difficult insurance companies and take cases to civil court anywhere in California. Learn more about the services we provide and how we can help by scheduling a free case evaluation today. Our personal injury law firm is located in the heart of Sacramento right off Interstate 80 and across from the Arden Fair Mall.

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

When an individual has suffered injuries in an accident caused by the negligence of another party or entity, they may seek compensation for financial losses and intangible harms. The injured individual, or the plaintiff, may file a bodily injury claim with the insurance company representing the other party to seek financial recovery of losses incurred. The plaintiff may also bring an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with their insurer if the at-fault party has insufficient or no liability coverage.

The purpose of an insurance settlement is to make the claimant whole again and to hold the other party, or the defendant, accountable for the damages their wrongdoing has caused. Since various factors may influence the outcome of a claim, it is essential to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case. At AutoAccident.com, our Sacramento-based personal injury lawyers can help you understand the steps involved in the legal process when someone else's negligent actions have caused your injuries.

What Must Be Proven in a Personal Injury Case?

To bring a strong personal injury claim forward, the following must be established:

  • The defendant owed the injured party a duty of care
  • The at-fault party breached their duty of care
  • The breach was the direct cause of the accident
  • The plaintiff experienced damages because of the incident

Proving negligence in a civil case is often challenging as substantial evidence must be gathered and preserved before it is lost or destroyed. A top-rated personal injury attorney in Sacramento may help with this and utilize clear and compelling evidence as a basis when building a strong case for fair compensation.

What Types of Damages are Recoverable in a Personal Injury Claim?

Compensatory damages in a civil case are intended to reimburse an injured party for actual losses resulting from someone else’s negligence. There are two types of compensation in these cases, economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages represent the sum of financial losses in connection to accident-related injuries, whereas non-economic damages are subjective in nature and differ in value from case to case. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Medical Expenses: The costs of medical care for injuries from an accident may be recoverable so long as evidence may establish that they were reasonable and necessary. To prove this, the services provided by the health care provider were medically relevant to the incident in question and the amount requested is within reason. In the latter, it may be justified through comparisons of similar services charged by other medical providers in the area.
  • Future Medical Costs: People who suffer serious injuries in accidents may require ongoing treatment for months or even years into the future. When seeking compensation in a personal injury claim, it is essential to seek future medical expenses to ensure that the plaintiff has the means to cover ongoing care. To establish that future medical treatment is reasonable and necessary, a skilled Sacramento personal injury lawyer may retain expert witnesses to provide testimony on behalf of the client to help the jurors and the insurance company understand the claimant’s medical condition and their need for ongoing treatment.
  • Lost Wages: The time that is taken off work to recover from an accident and attend medical appointments may be recovered. Wage loss in a personal injury case may be established through evidence such as W-2s from past tax years, pay stubs before and after the accident, a wage or salary verification form from the employer, and other documentation that may be utilized to demonstrate that the injured party was a business owner or self-employed at the time of the incident.
  • Future Lost Earnings: Loss of future earning potential may be proven through testimony from economic and medical experts. Documents that demonstrate a significant change in wages from before and after the incident and that the incident resulted in permanent injury or disability impacting future wages may also be utilized. These may help establish what the injured party would have reasonably expected to earn if not for the accident.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: In personal injury cases involving permanent injury or disability, out-of-pocket expenses may be sought for modifications made to the home or vehicle to accommodate that medical condition. Recovery of the costs of medical appliances and equipment may also be possible through clear and compelling evidence. Testimony from a life care planner may be utilized as a strategy when bringing such claims forward.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for pain and suffering are a reflection of the emotional suffering and physical pain the injured party has endured because of the incident. Evidence such as medical records and corroborations from physicians may be utilized to demonstrate the extent of a traumatic injury and prove pain and suffering. An experienced Sacramento personal injury attorney may also retain an expert witness for the civil case to provide insight on how the plaintiff’s life has been impacted because of the accident.
  • Loss of Consortium: Damages for loss of consortium may be sought in civil cases where an accident-related injury has caused damage to a marital relationship. This may also consider the inability to conceive children if the plaintiff has suffered a serious injury such as a spinal cord injury. Loss of consortium damages is a separate claim from the injured party’s case and is derivative in nature.

As you may see, the consequences of an accident resulting in bodily injury are endless. That is why it is crucial to work with the best personal injury attorney in Sacramento, California, with years of experience handling cases like yours to ensure that you are fairly compensated for the undue harm you have experienced. Watch the video below on how to find the right lawyer to handle your injury case.



Does California Allow Punitive Damages?

Under the California Civil Code Section 3294, punitive damages may be sought from a negligent party so long as there is clear and compelling evidence that proves that they are guilty of malice, fraud, or oppression. These are awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages in cases where it has been proven that the other party’s actions were particularly egregious, such as driving under the influence (DUI) or excessive speeding.

The purpose of punitive damages in a personal injury case is to punish the defendant for the significant harm their actions have inflicted on others and to serve as an example in the community that such conduct will not be tolerated. Punitive damages are not available in all civil cases and are generally awarded at the discretion of the court.


What Happens if Someone Hits You and You Don’t Have Insurance in California?

The Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 or also referred to as Proposition 213, is a law that went into effect in the state of California on November 5, 1996. The purpose of Prop 213 was to impose a restriction on uninsured drivers from collecting non-economic damages in a motor vehicle collision, regardless of whether or not the incident was their fault. The restriction also extends to drunk drivers and those convicted of a felony.

If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by another party or entity and did not have auto insurance at the time of the incident, please give our law firm a call today to discuss your options with one of our personal injury lawyers in Sacramento County. At AutoAccident.com, we are available anytime to review your case and advise you on what to expect from it moving forward.​


Is it Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer for an Accident Case?

The personal injury claims process for an accident is not always straightforward. Insurance companies may not always be willing to do what is right when it comes to offering fair compensation to the injured party. Insurance carriers may resort to defense tactics to get out of paying claims. Unlike insurers, an attorney handling a personal injury case on behalf of a client will have their interests at heart and work diligently to obtain the fair compensation they deserve for their losses.


What Happens After an Attorney Sends a Demand Letter?

A personal injury lawyer will often send what is known as a demand letter to the insurance company on a client’s behalf. The purpose of the letter is to work toward a resolution of an insurance claim without the need to file a lawsuit. A demand letter generally includes the following:

  • A statement of the facts of the incident in question
  • An outline of economic damages and a description of non-economic damages
  • A specific amount of compensation demanded to settle the insurance claim
  • A given deadline an insurance carrier must meet when it comes to responding before litigation is started, which is generally 30 days

While any claimant may send a demand letter to the insurer, it is best to have a top-rated personal injury lawyer in Sacramento prepare it. An attorney will use their expertise and knowledge to ensure that all information and California law applicable to the case are included.


How Do You Know if a Settlement Offer is Fair?

When an insurance company responds to a demand letter with an offer, it is often far less than what is demanded. This will initiate the negotiations process where all parties will work together to reach an agreement for a fair and reasonable settlement amount. Once this has been accomplished, a release of all claims must be signed to release the at-fault party from liability for the incident and to finalize a settlement.


What is the Litigation Process in a Personal Injury Case?

When there is a disagreement on an insurance settlement offer, the case may proceed to litigation. This process is initiated when a lawsuit or formal complaint has been filed in civil court. It may involve pleadings, formal discovery, mediation, trial, and appeals.

In cases where insurance adjusters are valuing claims based on computer systems such as Colossus, it is often necessary to move forward with a lawsuit for the value of the claim to be decided by a judge or jury instead of an algorithm that does not account for the extent of non-economic damages. In other situations, a suit is filed to ensure that the statute of limitations is protected.


What is the Purpose of the Discovery Process?

The discovery phase is a formal procedure that involves an exchange of information between the parties involved in the civil case. It begins when a formal lawsuit has been filed. The purpose of the discovery process is to allow parties to produce evidence relevant to the case, assist both sides with settling any disputes, and facilitate a resolution. In most cases, defense counsel will have the opportunity to have a plaintiff undergo an independent medical examination by a physician of their choice.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the exchanged information may be used to prepare for trial. Since the discovery process is constantly evolving, it is essential to select the best personal injury lawyer in Sacramento with the experience, skills, and resources necessary in overcoming the various defense tactics insurance companies may use throughout the legal process.


What are Interrogatories Used for?

The discovery process may involve both parties providing written answers to questions that are known as interrogatories. Each question may be comprised of various subparts that require detailed and accurate responses from both sides.

Form interrogatories are generally standard pre-printed forms that are approved by the court. Both sides may also have the opportunity to draft their own questions known as special interrogatories if they believe that the standard form interrogatories do not fully cover the bases on the questions they would like answered.


What to Expect from a Deposition?

Depositions may be necessary to determine what knowledge the witness has and to preserve their testimony. These are oral statements that are taken under oath. A court reporter will be used to record and transcribe the testimony.

Since first impressions are important, it is crucial for the plaintiff to dress as if they were appearing before a jury or judge. The plaintiff's attorney will also prepare the client for the deposition by reviewing documents and medical records with them ahead of time.


What is a Request for Production of Documents?

A request for production of documents is a step in the discovery process. These requests may be made by parties involved in the civil case to seek physical evidence and documents from one another. The purpose of the request for the production of documents is to seek information that may be utilized as evidence in a civil case or presented at a hearing or trial.

It is not uncommon for a party served by the other side to object to a request for production of documents on the grounds of privilege or relevance. In other situations, the party may claim that the information requested does not exist, conceal it, or even ignore the questions.

When one party is questioning the other’s objection, a meet and confer letter may be sent to request a meeting to address the objection to any items, documents, or information being sought. If there is no movement at this stage, a motion for sanctions may be filed against the other party to request that the judge rule on the issues involved in the case.


How Does Mediation Work in a Personal Injury Case?

Mediation is an informal proceeding that takes place between parties involved in a personal injury case in an attempt to reach an agreement. The role of a mediator is to facilitate a resolution between both sides. Mediators may often be former or current judges overseeing the matter.


What is a Request for Admission?

A request for admission is a type of written discovery that compels the insurance company to fulfill its obligation when it comes to fairly paying a personal injury case. The purpose of a request for admission is for one party to admit a fact that is acknowledged without any documents or testimony to help establish liability.

If a request for admission is denied, a personal injury lawyer may send a contention interrogatory in an attempt to proceed with further discovery into what the denials entail. A contention interrogatory involves asking the defendant that has denied a request for admission to state the facts, produce documents, and name all witnesses in support of the denial. The rules for requests for admissions are set out by the California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 2033.010 - 2033.080.

If a request for admission has been improperly denied by the insurance company and defense counsel, they may be held liable for the costs involved with proving that part of the personal injury case. The process will involve the other side being sanctioned by the court. This is generally represented in a dollar amount to prove the expenses involved in establishing the improperly denied fact. The sanction may be comprised of the costs of retaining an expert witness and the lawyer’s time to prove the fact in the case.


Why Does a Personal Injury Case Go to Arbitration?

A personal injury case often moves forward to arbitration to reach a resolution. An arbitrator selected for binding arbitrations is often an attorney with substantial experience or a retired judge. Their familiarity with the evaluation of cases is essential to understanding where both sides are coming from. That is why the insight of an arbitrator may be useful and persuasive in the evaluation of such claims.

There are two types of awards from arbitration, non-binding arbitration awards in third-party insurance claims and binding arbitration awards in first-party insurance claims through uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. In the former, it generally provides the basis for a neutral valuation of the personal injury claim but is not considered a final decision, whereas the latter is final.


Why Do Accident Cases Go to Trial?

While most personal injury cases settle out of civil court, some may proceed to trial. This may occur when the insurance company disagrees with the amount demanded by the plaintiff’s lawyer and believes that it is too high. In other situations, there may be disputes regarding liability for the incident or the extent of damages incurred. Substantial time and preparation for the trial are necessary.

All in all, it is crucial for a plaintiff to be aware that despite obtaining a favorable jury award at trial, the opposing side may appeal the case. Since the appellate process may be challenging to navigate, it is often useful to have legal counsel handle these legal matters.


Is California a Comparative Fault State?

The state of California follows the legal doctrine of comparative negligence in the assessment of liability in personal injury lawsuits. What is meant by California identifying as a comparative fault state is that when an accident occurs and liability is disputed, the percentage of negligence is assigned to each party involved based upon their contribution to the incident. See California Civil Code Section 1714 for more details.

This is one of the common defense tactics that insurance companies and defense counsel may utilize as a way of paying as little as possible on a case during negotiations and in trial. That is why it is essential to retain an experienced injury lawyer to ensure that fault is not unfairly shifted onto you by the other side. Our team of experienced Sacramento personal injury attorneys is always available to help you with your case after a life-changing accident.


Can a Pre-Existing Condition Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

A pre-existing condition refers to a medical condition or injury that a plaintiff has suffered from before the accident in question. Disclosing such conditions is necessary when moving forward with a personal injury claim, as they must be considered when an insurance settlement or jury award is being calculated. That is because a pre-existing condition may reduce the amount of compensation awarded in a civil case.

Having a pre-existing medical condition does not necessarily prevent a claimant from being compensated for the undue harm they have experienced. Clear and compelling evidence must be provided to show that the accident resulted in an exacerbation or aggravation of their condition. To help establish this, medical records from before and after the accident, depositions from treating physicians, and testimony from expert witnesses may be useful.


What is the Statute of Limitations in California for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations is a law that imposes a strict time limit a claimant must follow when filing a lawsuit in civil court. Under the California Code of Civil Code Procedure Section 335.1, a lawsuit must be filed no later than two years from the date of the accident. Understanding how this legal rule applies to a civil case is detrimental to its prospective outcome.

Various factors may influence the duration of the statute of limitations in a personal injury case. If the at-fault party involves a government agency, the filing deadline may be shortened as outlined in California Government Code Section 911.2. Under these circumstances, an injured party must file a claim within six months of the date of injury to protect the statute of limitations. This may typically result in a denial of the claim, and the injured party will have six months to file a lawsuit in court from the date the denial letter was issued.

After getting injured in an accident in Sacramento County or elsewhere in California, it is crucial to work with the best personal injury lawyer to ensure that all filing criteria and deadlines are met in your case. Speak with one of our experienced accident attorneys today to determine which statute of limitations is applicable in your matter.


Is it Expensive to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

One concern an injured party may have after an accident in Sacramento is whether they may be able to afford to hire a personal injury lawyer for their case. Most attorneys represent injured people under a contingency fee agreement meaning that there is no risk to the client when retaining legal counsel.

The advantage of a contingency fee agreement is that there are no upfront fees and costs to the client while the case is still ongoing. Attorneys’ fees will only be due if there is a successful outcome obtained in the case and will be deducted from the insurance settlement or jury award. The purpose of a contingency fee is to make legal representation accessible and affordable to everyone.

Our Videos
About the Firm
Personal Injury Lawyers
Testimonials
Discuss Your Case with a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney Today

The steps of a personal injury case are challenging to navigate when difficult insurance companies and defense counsel are involved. That is why it is a good idea to have the best injury lawyer review your accident case, go over your rights as a plaintiff, and discuss some of your options for financial recovery moving forward.

If you were involved in any type of accident in Sacramento or elsewhere in California, our law firm is here to help you and your family through this difficult time. Our legal team may handle all aspects of your case from start to finish so you can focus on recovering and being with your loved ones. Start with a free consultation today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. Our Northern California-based personal injury lawyers are available anytime to provide free, friendly case advice.

View ratings and reviews by our past clients on Avvo, Google, and Yelp. Some of our past case results are available for your reference on our Verdicts and Settlements page.

In recognition of the work and results we have delivered to our clients, we have been invited to join the following groups as California members:

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed! Alex & Dinah M.
★★★★★
"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
★★★★★
"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
★★★★★
"Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime." Jeremy M.
★★★★★
"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
★★★★★
"Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury." David M.
Sacramento Injury Attorneys Blog
Contact Us
  1. 1 Free Consultation
  2. 2 Available 24/7
  3. 3 No Fee Unless You Win

Fill out the contact form or call us at 916.921.6400 to schedule your free consultation.