How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?

How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?

Written by Dennis Grossman

Attorney Dennis Grossman has managed thousands of cases, obtaining millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for his clients.

Lawsuits are a legal way to enforce another party to compensate you for harm that they caused in your life. Once you enter into a lawsuit, you must follow a step-by-step process that can take up to a year or more. Civil litigation can be used for personal injury cases to retrieve damages that go up to billions of dollars. Typically, the other party must have been negligent in some way in order for them to be held liable for your wounds. The defendant’s actions must have directly caused damages that had a negative impact on you. You also need proof to show how you suffered damages because of the defendant’s negligence. Your personal injury attorney will help you file your lawsuit by taking all the necessary steps to prepare your personal injury claim. To find out what you can expect in personal injury litigation and whether you have a strong case, speak to a personal injury attorney. Call Personal Injury Attorney Fresno for a free consultation now. 

Steps To Filing Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

Every personal injury case has unique circumstances that require an approach that may differ from other cases. In most cases, your attorney will help you through a personal injury claim before you decide to file a lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help you obtain maximum compensation using the evidence at hand. When car accident victims file personal injury lawsuits, they undergo the following process:

Document Your Wounds

Once you’ve been injured, it is practically required that you take photos of your wounds. Pictures are an important form of physical evidence. They also help describe how the accident may have happened. You can also take pictures of the area where you were wounded so that the other party has a clear idea of what caused you to get hurt. 

Get Medical Care

It is absolutely necessary for you to see a doctor who can review your wounds. When you get a doctor’s opinion, they will let you know how severe your injuries are. Any hidden injuries will also be uncovered, for example, soft tissue injuries and hairline fractures. 

Write Down Contact Information 

You will need to make sure you have all the contact information from the other party, including their insurer. If there were any eyewitnesses that observed how you got injured, you should take down their contact information too. 

Summarize Your Pain And Suffering

While you are recovering from your injuries, you likely are experiencing pain and suffering. Your pain and suffering include feelings such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, embarrassment, and other forms of emotional turmoil. Pain and suffering is important because you wouldn’t be experiencing these harmful emotions if it weren’t for the other party’s negligence. These damages also make up a majority of your settlement and are estimated by your attorney using a multiplier. Your attorney selects a number between one and seven which depends on how severe your damages are. This number is then multiplied by the total economic damages, then added to your total damages. 

Comply With Doctor’s Recommendations

When you are recommended medical care, you have to follow the doctor’s healthcare plan. This prevents your injuries from worsening and will prevent the other party from denying your settlement. 

Work With A Great Personal Injury Attorney 

Your personal injury attorney will help you through the entire process of filing a lawsuit. They speak with you during an initial consultation to make sure that your personal injury is eligible for compensation. Because they are adept at knowing who is or isn’t at fault, they will immediately identify who can be held liable for your injuries. Sometimes, you may have blamed the wrong individual. Your attorney can place liability on the correct party. Through an investigation, your attorney can gather enough evidence to support your personal injury claim. They may use surveillance camera videos, police reports, personal history records, lab test results, and other information. Attorneys will collect as much evidence as possible to make sure that you have a strong case. If you partially contributed to your accident, your attorney will help estimate how much in damages you are still owed. This can be complicated for you to figure out on your own. Personal injury attorneys will accurately estimate your damages. For example, in addition to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, your economic damages will include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Attorneys take into consideration the ongoing cost of medical bills that can continue for weeks or months and include this amount. In most personal injury claims, the same approach is applied to the lost income that may continue into the future. 

Don’t Give Any Recorded Testimonies

Avoid agreeing to provide recorded testimonies that can cause you to lose eligibility to your personal injury settlement. The other party’s insurance company may contact you and request that you answer questions while being recorded. This can be used against you because they will use this as evidence to diminish how much you should receive in settlement money. Your attorney can appropriately handle all communication between you and the other involved parties. 

Decline Any Cash Offers

If the other party offers cash at the scene of your personal injury, decline it. Not only do you not know how much you should receive in damages, but often the cash amount is far less than a fair settlement. Let your attorney handle any settlement offers on your behalf using their experience managing personal injury claims. 

Undergo Negotiation Before Lawsuit

Your personal injury attorney is a highly experienced negotiator. They can help you overcome objections by the other party due to their knowledge of personal injury law. With the evidence they built up to support your claim, they show the other party how they were negligent and why they are liable for your injuries. Additionally, attorneys draft documents that detail all of the damages that you suffered. Being well-educated communicators, your attorney will negotiate with the other party a fair settlement. If they refuse to settle, then they will file a lawsuit on your behalf.

File A Lawsuit 

Personal injury attorneys file a petition with the civil court system. This involves an initial application that includes how much you are demanding in compensation. A lawsuit will follow this process:

Defendant Is Served

The other party is served a copy of the lawsuit so that they are aware that you are suing them. Typically a sheriff or certified court admin serves the papers. The defendant has 30 days to respond to your lawsuit or they will be in default. If they were mailed the papers, they have 40 days. 

Discovery Process

After the summons is served, the discovery process begins. The discovery process involves your attorney and the other party investigating your personal injury and swapping information. This allows both parties to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the claim and rebuttal. 

Pre-Trial Preparation

The pre-trial meeting happens about 90 days before the trial. All involved parties organize their evidence and any witness testimonies. 

Mandatory Settlement Conference

Before your trial, you must meet with the other involved parties to work on settling your claim before the trial. Your attorney will represent you during this meeting. If there is no compromise, then you attend a trial. 


The judge or jury reviews all the evidence and the concerns of all involved parties. They then make a judgment that decides whether you receive compensation and for how much.


You either collect the enforced settlement or the other party appeals, requiring a new trial. 

The Time Limit On Filing A Personal Injury Lawsuit In California

In the state of California, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you didn’t discover your injury until way past this deadline, then you have one year from the date you discovered your injury. Before the statute of limitations is up, reach out to a personal injury attorney who can help you get maximum compensation. Call Personal Injury Fresno today for a free consultation.