PERSONAL INJURY
                    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What is a Personal Injury Case?

It is not possible to list every type of scenario which may give rise to
a personal injury claim.  However, most commonly, personal injury
cases arise from car accidents, slip/trip and fall injuries, motorcycle
accidents, and also from work injuries.  Basically, a simple way to
know whether there is a possible personal injury claim is look for
whether someone was harmed or injured by the fault of another
person or entity.  You will need to discuss your situation with a
personal injury lawyer to assess whether you have a viable personal
injury case.  


What is Negligence?

A fundamental principal of American jurisprudence is that all people
and entities are expected to act with "reasonable care".   In other
words, people and/or companies cannot act so carelessly or
“negligently” that they expose others to undue risk of harm.  The
specifics of what constitutes reasonable care vary somewhat from
state to state and also from situation to situation.  The basic
purpose of the law is to encourage the formation of a safer society
where all people and companies are acting in a careful and prudent
manner, so that all people in society have a safer place to live their
lives in.

When someone fails to act with the “reasonable care” required by a
given circumstance, that may be considered negligence.  In order to
recover for most personal injuries, you and your personal attorney
will have to prove that another person or a business was negligent,
and that the negligence caused your personal injuries.


Do I have a Personal Injury Case?

You will need to speak with a personal injury lawyer to discuss the
detailed facts of your case and the attorney will advise you as to
whether you have a viable personal injury case or not.  

In order to have a viable personal injury case, the injured party has
the burden to proving that the other party owed the injured party a
“duty of care”, that the conduct of the other party was negligent
such that it “breached” its duty of care, that the “breach” or
“negligence” was the actual and proximate cause of the injures or
damages suffered by the injured party.  And finally and perhaps
most importantly to your case, you will need to prove that you have
been “damaged” or “injured”.  These “elements” form the basis of a
typical personal injury case and each element must be proved with
evidence.

Even if you have a valid claim, your personal injury attorney will
have to investigate whether or not you would be able to collect on
your claim.  Unfortunately, sometimes the party that causes injury to
another has no money, insurance or assets that can be sought to
compensate the injured party.  In such a situation, if the other party
does not have insurance and does not have other assets that could
be used to compensate you, then it may be that you have a valid
claim but will be unable to collect compensation for it.



What is the value of my personal injury case?

There are a number of factors that go into “valuing” the case.   One
of the major factors that goes into putting a value on your case are
your medical bills.  Also, lost income because you were not able to
work or run your business  is important in assessing the value of
your case.   Property damage and other financial harm is factored
into the damages.  Finally, and often most importantly, your pain
and suffering that resulted from the accident is a component in
estimating the value of your case.

Even when these factors are considered, there be major  variations
in the value of a personal injury claim based on the amount of
insurance involved or the assets of the defendant, any partial fault
on the part of the injured person, the victim's willingness/ability to
invest a long period of time in litigating the claim versus the need for
a relatively quick settlement, and more.

Putting a value on your case is not an exact science.  It is not
possible for your attorney to give you an exact or definite “value” of
your case to you at the outset of the case.  This is especially true
because you may not even have completed your medical treatment
when you first meet your personal injury lawyer.  However, a good
personal injury lawyer can weigh the various factors to give you an
overall picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.



What Should I Do if I'm Hurt in an Accident?

Get medical attention.  Keep tract of each and every medical
provider that you get treatment from.  File a police report.  
As soon as you are able to, you should write down your recollections
of how the accident happened and all related information about the
accident.  If you can take photographs of your injuries, the damage
to your vehicle or property or the scene of the accident, then you
should take the photographs.

You should retain an attorney as soon as possible so that you can
focus on your health, and let the attorney take care of dealing with
the other party or their insurance.  You should not deal with the
other parties’ insurance company on your own.  Their insurance
company is not concerned with your best interests.  In fact, they may
try to deny your claim altogether by claiming that the accident was
your own fault , or that you did not suffer any injuries.  The
insurance company’s claims adjusters handle claims all day long
and are extremely well trained to try to minimize or outright deny
your claim.  They are not on your side.  


Will my case go to trial?

Very few personal injury cases go to trial.  Most cases can be settled
prior to trial, and many cases can be settled even before filing a
lawsuit.
LAW OFFICES OF MONTY S. GILL
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Ventura, California  93003
Phone:  (805) 644-1071     Email:  
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