Wrongful Accident Lawyer Santa Barbara
Studies show that medical debt, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, has greatly contributed to the increasing economic inequality among American families. Rising health care costs, coupled with increased premiums and deductibles, often lead people to avoid seeking medical attention for “minor” issues, leading to higher bills if those issues grow worse. If you or a family member becomes ill, your family faces the prospect of crippling medical debt, even after reductions by your insurance company.
Sometimes medical issues arise due to the wrongful actions or negligence of a third party. When that happens, you should not be held responsible for the resulting medical costs. California law provides wrongful accident victims a path for redress through the court system. However, the process of filing a claim can be complicated, and some people – overwhelmed by the court system, and coping with their injuries – ultimately decline to file a case, even when their claim is valid.
What is a “Wrongful Accident”?
A “wrongful accident” is an event in which someone is injured or killed through another person or entity’s wrongful actions or negligence. There are many ways in which an individual can be injured as a result of a wrongful accident in Santa Barbara, including vehicular and pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse or neglect, injuries resulting from neglected property (premises liability), dog bites, boating accidents, and aviation accidents. Details vary with each specific situation, so it is important to try and record everything you can remember about the accident.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim
Filing a personal injury claim for a wrongful accident in Santa Barbara is complicated. First, you must make sure that the statute of limitations has not expired for your injury. This limit can vary depending on the specifics of your case, but is usually two years from the date of injury. If the statute of limitations has not passed, then you should decide how much you are requesting in damages, as this will determine whether your case is considered a small claims complaint or a civil complaint. Keep in mind that you or your personal injury attorney must be able to prove that the requested damages are a reasonable amount as related to your injuries.
Before a complaint is filed, you must request compensation from the defendant, who is then given the opportunity to respond. If the defendant refuses to pay the damages requested, then a complaint is filed with the court. There is a filing fee – which is determined by the amount of damages you are requesting – and the complaint must be filed within the proper jurisdiction (usually the location where the injury took place, where the defendant lives, or where the defendant does business). Filing in the wrong jurisdiction will result in your claim being dismissed by a judge. The defendant then has a set amount of time to respond to your complaint.
Sometimes, the defendant will offer a smaller sum as a settlement for your damages. You may accept the settlement, at which point the case is dismissed, or you may refuse and continue with your suit. However, the larger the sum you are requesting, the more inclined the defendant will be to fight your claim – especially if they can show you were liable for your injuries. Your personal injury attorney will advise you of your options throughout the process.
How Should I Prepare for My Initial Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney?
Due to this complicated process, it is highly recommended that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you. Attorneys are familiar with the legal process, know which questions to ask when seeking information, and can examine your documents for information to strengthen your case. They will also be familiar with the various court jurisdictions and will know where to file your claim. In addition, a personal injury attorney will often offer a free consultation to determine if your claim might be considered valid in a court of law.
When preparing for your initial consultation, gather all relevant documentation, including police reports, accident photos, insurance information (including account numbers), past and projected diagnostic and treatment records, medical bills, repair bills for property damage, and any witness statements or contact information. Additionally, be sure to have the names, contact information, and specializations of any medical personnel you have seen.
Be prepared to answer questions that your personal injury attorney may ask, including work details such as your normal duties, your salary, how long you have been working with your company, how long you have been unable to work, and how long you expect to be out of work. A skilled personal injury attorney may also ask about the effect of your accident on your family, your physical and mental well-being, how your medical treatments are progressing, and if you’ve consulted with other personal injury attorneys. Be as open as possible when answering these questions, as they will help your attorney determine the best course of action for your claim. If you have concerns that your actions may have contributed in any way towards the accident, keep in mind that California is a comparative fault state, so if your attorney can show that the defendant was at least partially liable, you may still be eligible for partial compensation.
As attorneys who specialize in wrongful accident claims, the legal team at Maho Prentice, LLC understands your frustration and is prepared to help guide you through the process of filing a claim. Our team has over 60 years of combined legal experience assisting victims of wrongful accidents in Santa Barbara, and we believe that your family should not have to bear the financial impact of another’s actions or neglect.