Following are answers to questions frequently encountered at the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel about personal injury claims, including claims involving government entities. If you have further questions or need immediate assistance in a personal injury matter, contact the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney.
Q. When should my personal injury claim be filed?
A. Under normal circumstances, California law provides for a two year statute of limitations in most personal injury cases. This means that you must file your personal injury claim within two years of the date of your injury, or a reasonable period of time from the discovery of the injury. However, certain types of personal injury cases may call for a shorter or longer period in which a claim must be filed. For example, when minor children are involved, the statute of limitations may run longer. On the other hand, claims against government agencies must be filed within six months of the injury. In addition, a notice of claim must be filed with the public entity before being filed with the superior court. No matter what your injury may be, it is important to understand that each case is different and that a personal consultation with an experienced attorney is always advised.
Q. What is a notice of claim?
A. If your personal injury suit involves a claim against a federal, state, local government entity, or a government employee, you will most likely need to follow strict guidelines in bringing a lawsuit, including the requirement that you file a "notice of claim" within as few as 6 months after your injury. This is because governments and their subdivisions are usually entitled to what is known as "immunity" to liability and lawsuits, meaning that they cannot ordinarily be sued without permission.
Q. What is a Tort Claim Act?
A. Most governments, such as California, have enacted laws that contain rules for filing an injury claim against them. Through these laws (usually called "Tort Claims Acts"), federal, state, and city governments have conditionally given up or "waived" immunity to legal liability for an accident or injury. Note that if you do not follow the rules in these laws (including giving the government prompt notice of your injury claim), you will lose the right to receive any compensation for injuries caused by the government.
Q. How much are attorney fees in personal injury cases?
A. Our fees are contingent on a successful recovery. In general, this means that if you do not recover through a settlement or verdict, then you will not be charged. If you do recover, we charge a negotiable percentage of your recovery, which will depend on the facts and complexities unique to your case. We discuss the details of this arrangement with you during our first conference. Assuming there is an agreement between you and our firm, we will represent your interests through settlement and/or trial as necessary.
Q. What type of compensation may be available in my personal injury case?
A. Although each verdict or settlement award depends on the facts of your particular case, there are certain types of monetary damages that are generally available to personal injury plaintiffs. In many cases, a plaintiff may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include such costs as medical and treatment bills, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, and property damages. Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering and emotional distress. In addition, if you have lost a loved one in an accident, you may be able to recover for your own losses, including compensation for "loss of consortium," or loss of the person’s love, companionship, and support. If a negligent party’s conduct was particularly egregious in causing an injury or accident, you may also be able to recover punitive damages.