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Ask a Lawyer: What is a Personal Injury Claim?

Dear Harsh Law:

How do I know if I have a personal injury claim and what should I know before speaking to a lawyer?


Dear Potential Client:

Accidents happen all the time and determining if you have a valid personal injury claim is not always simple. For this reason, you should always consult with a personal injury lawyer following an accident. There are a few general requirements for most personal injury claims that we can share to help you determine if you have a valid personal injury claim and what steps are recommended to take.


Requirement 1: You Were in an Accident

To open a personal injury claim, you must have been involved, directly or indirectly, in an accident.

A wide variety of situations are covered by personal injury law – car accidents, truck accidents, accidents at restaurants, bicycle accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful deaths are just a few of the most common types of accidents.

Additionally, you may have a valid claim if you were bitten by someone else’s dog or were hurt by negligent property maintenance.


Requirement 2: You Were Injured

At the heart of every personal injury claim, a loss must occur.

What is a loss? A loss is an injury or damage that you have suffered as a result of the accident. This could include physical injuries, such as a broken bone, as well as emotional and psychological injuries. In some cases, you may also be able to claim damages for lost wages or future earnings.

In practical terms, a loss should be calculated monetarily. As a result, personal injury claims are meant to compensate for losses, or damages, sustained during an accident.

If you were not harmed, and as a result suffered no loss which can be measured monetarily, there’s little chance you’ll be able to successfully argue a claim since nothing can compensate you.

Additionally, if you were injured but your injuries were very minor and did not require medical attention, it will be very difficult to prove a claim.


Requirement 3: Someone Else Caused the Accident (even partially)

Personal injury claims typically rely on negligence. Negligence is a careless action or inaction that injures another person. If you believe that someone else’s negligence caused your accident that resulted in injury, you may have a valid claim. However, if you were completely at fault for the accident, you probably do not have a claim.


Requirement 4: The Accident Happened Within the Last 2 Years

California, like every other state, has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The statute of limitations, or time limit, for most personal injury claims is usually two years after the event.

If you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you will lose your right to file a claim and recover any compensation. The basic rule is simple: if you have a claim, act relatively quickly or you will lose the right to seek relief. California also has some exceptions to the statute of limitations, but it is best to stay within the standard 2-year time limit.


Requirement 5: Evidence Exists

To prove a personal injury claim, you will need evidence.

Unfortunately, simply stating that you were injured and someone else was at fault is not enough. You must also have evidence to prove your claim.

Photos from the accident scene, eyewitness statements that corroborate your claim, repair bills, and medical documents all serve as useful evidence when proving your claim.


How To File A Personal Injury Claim?

Our Southern California Personal Injury Lawyers are ready to discuss your case. At Harsh Law, we review every case free of charge and advise on the strategy your case should take. If you would like to talk to a member of our legal team, give us a call at 909-793-6261 or fill out the contact form on this website.