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Finding the right personal injury attorney serving Sacramento to handle your accident case may seem like a daunting task. You do not have to look far for a lawyer with years of experience. At, our legal team has obtained successful case resolutions for clients since 1982.

Our law office is in the heart of Sacramento, CA, right off Interstate 80 and across from the Arden Fair Mall. Learn how an attorney from our law firm can help you by scheduling a free consultation today. Here is more information on the personal injury claims process in California.

What Qualifies as Personal Injury in California?

When a negligent individual or entity causes an accident, an injured party may seek compensation for their losses. The injured individual, or the plaintiff, can file a bodily injury claim with the insurer representing the opposing party. The plaintiff can file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with their insurance company. This is a viable option if the other side has insufficient or no liability coverage.

What is the Purpose of Compensatory Damages?

Compensation from an accident claim intends to make the plaintiff whole again. The case itself serves the purpose of holding the negligent party accountable for the resulting losses. An experienced attorney can review the specifics of a case to determine the best course of action. Our personal injury lawyers from Sacramento can go over your options in a free case evaluation.

What Are the Elements of Personal Injury in California?

Bringing a strong case requires proving the following elements:

  • The defendant owed the injured party a duty of care
  • The at-fault party breached their duty of care
  • The breach was the direct cause of the accident
  • The plaintiff experienced damages because of the incident

Proving negligence in civil cases is challenging. If you do not preserve evidence immediately, you may lose it forever. An experienced injury attorney serving Sacramento County can help you collect evidence. Your lawyer will use it as a basis to build a strong case for full compensation.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Bodily Injury Claim?

Damages in injury cases compensate claimants for actual losses. The specific losses available will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. These cases often seek the following types of economic and non-economic damages:

  • Medical Expenses: An injured party can seek reimbursement of medical care costs for injuries from an accident. Evidence supporting the claim must prove that treatment was reasonable and necessary. Services must be medically relevant to the incident, and the amount billed is reasonable. This involves comparing similar services charged by medical providers in the area.
  • Future Medical Costs: Serious accident-related injuries often require ongoing treatment. A skilled Sacramento injury attorney will build a strong case to seek future medical expenses. This ensures that the injured party has the means to cover ongoing care. Expert witness testimony may be necessary to establish the claimant's medical condition and their need for future medical treatment.
  • Lost Wages: An injured individual may seek reimbursement of wage loss for time missed at work. This encompasses time taken off work to recover from a crash and to attend relevant medical appointments. W-2s, pay stubs, and wage or salary verification forms from employers can substantiate wage loss claims. Other evidence can prove that the injured party was a business owner or self-employed at the time of the incident.
  • Future Lost Earnings: Proving damages for loss of future earning potential generally requires economic and medical expert testimony. Evidence must demonstrate a significant change in wages from before and after the incident. Documents must prove that the accident resulted in permanent injury or disability. Evidence supporting the claim must prove how the incident and injuries have affected future earning capacity.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: An injured party can seek out-of-pocket expenses for reasonable and relevant losses. Claimants can recover home or vehicle modification costs in cases involving permanent injury or disability. Evidence must establish that out-of-pocket expenses are necessary for accommodating the reported injury or disability. An attorney can consult with a life care planner and other relevant experts as a strategy in these cases.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for pain and suffering reflect emotional suffering and physical pain from accident-related injuries. Medical records can serve as evidence in proving pain and suffering. Corroborations from physicians can demonstrate the extent of the injury and pain and suffering. A Sacramento injury lawyer can consult with experts who can testify about how the incident impacted the plaintiff's life.
  • Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium damages reflects harm to a marriage because of serious injuries from an accident. Additionally, a plaintiff with a spinal cord injury can seek damages for the inability to conceive children. Loss of consortium damages are separate claims from the plaintiff's case. These losses are derivative in nature.

As you can see, an accident may have immediate and lasting consequences. This may impact various aspects of an injured party's life. In these situations, it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney. Watch this video for suggestions on finding the best lawyer practicing personal injury law near you.

Does California Allow Punitive Damages in Accident Cases?

Under the California Civil Code Section 3294, plaintiffs can seek punitive damages against defendants in cases involving egregious conduct. Clear and compelling evidence must prove the defendant is guilty of malice, fraud, or oppression. Punitive damages are separate from non-economic and economic damages. Accident cases involving driving under the influence (DUI) or excessive speeding may warrant punitive damages.

Punitive damages serve to punish the defendant for the significant harm their egregious actions have inflicted on others. They make an example out of the negligent party that the community will not tolerate such behavior. Not all cases warrant punitive damages. For more information, contact an experienced and knowledgeable injury lawyer serving Sacramento, California.

What Happens if You Get in an Accident Without Insurance in California?

California enacted the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 (Proposition 213) on November 5, 1996. The purpose of Prop 213 is to impose restrictions on uninsured drivers. This prevents them from collecting non-economic damages regardless of fault for an accident. The restriction also extends to drunk drivers and those convicted of a felony.

If an accident injured you and you did not have auto insurance at the time of the incident, call our law firm. Our Sacramento-based injury attorneys are on standby to review your case in detail in a free consultation. We can review your potential case and advise you on what to expect moving forward.

Is it Worth Hiring a Lawyer for a Bodily Injury Claim?

The personal injury claims process for an accident case is not always straightforward. Insurance companies are concerned with protecting profit margins. Insurers may resort to defense tactics to avoid payouts for claimants. Unlike insurers, an experienced personal injury attorney will seek the maximum compensation their client deserves.

What Happens After an Attorney Sends a Demand Letter?

A lawyer will prepare a demand letter to the insurance carrier on behalf of the client. The purpose of the demand is to resolve the claim without the need to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.. A demand letter generally includes the following:

  • A statement of the facts of the incident in question
  • An outline of economic damages and a description of non-economic damages
  • A specific amount of compensation demanded to settle the insurance claim
  • A deadline for the insurance carrier to respond to the demand. This is generally 30 days. Once the time limit runs out, the case moves forward into litigation.

A claimant can send a demand letter to the insurance company without legal counsel. However, it is essential to have an experienced personal injury lawyer prepare a demand to the insurer. An attorney will ensure the matter includes relevant information and applicable case laws.

How Do You Know if a Settlement Offer is Reasonable?

A demand letter serves as an attempt to resolve a claim. These provide a general and brief explanation of the incident and reported injuries. Demand letters seek a specific payout in the accident case and the legal justification for the amount demanded. Demand letters list deadlines within which the opposing party must provide a response.

Insurance carriers often make offers significantly lower than the demanded amounts in the demand letters. When this occurs, it generally initiates the negotiation process. All parties will work together to reach an agreement for a fair and reasonable settlement amount. To finalize the settlement, the plaintiff must sign a release from all claims.

What is the Litigation Process in an Injury Case?

When there is a disagreement on an insurance settlement offer, the case may proceed to litigation. The process begins when a claimant files a lawsuit or formal complaint in civil court. It may involve pleadings, formal discovery, mediation, trial, and appeals.

Insurance adjusters often use computer systems like Colossus to determine the value of accident claims. A computer program may not accurately assess the value of economic and non-economic damages. Filing a lawsuit is often necessary for a judge or jury to determine the value of a case. Claimants also file lawsuits to protect the statute of limitations.

What Happens During the Discovery Process?

The discovery phase is a formal procedure that involves exchanging information between the parties involved in the civil case. The discovery process begins when a party files a formal lawsuit. The process allows parties to produce relevant and admissible evidence. Discovery assists both sides with settling disputes and reaching a resolution.

In most cases, defense counsel will have the opportunity to request an independent medication examination (IME). The plaintiff will undergo an IME by a physician selected by defense counsel. Not all cases will reach mutual agreements between the plaintiff and defendant. Furthermore, the parties can use the exchanged information for trial.

The discovery process is constantly evolving. As an injured party, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced trial attorney. The right lawyer will have the experience, skills, and resources to manage your case effectively. You want to work with an attorney who knows how to counter various defense tactics the opposing side may use throughout the legal process.

What are Interrogatories Used for?

The discovery process involves both parties providing written answers to questions, called interrogatories. Questions consist of various subparts. They require detailed and accurate responses from the plaintiff and defendant.

Form interrogatories are standard court-approved pre-printed forms. The plaintiff and defendant have the opportunity to draft questions, called special interrogatories. Both sides can write special interrogatories if standard-form interrogatories do not fully cover questions they would like answered.

Preparing for Depositions

Depositions may be necessary to determine what knowledge the witness has and to preserve their testimony. Depositions are oral statements taken under oath. Court reporters record and transcribe testimonies.

Since first impressions are important, it is crucial for the plaintiff to dress as if they were appearing before a jury or judge. The plaintiff's counsel will prepare the client ahead of time. The attorney will review documents and medical records with the client before a deposition.

What is a Request for Production of Documents?

A request for production of documents is a step in the discovery process. Parties involved in the civil case can make these requests to seek physical evidence and documents from one another. A request for the production of documents serves to seek information. The party can use this as evidence in a civil case, hearing, or trial.

An objection to a request for the production of documents is not uncommon. The common reason is for grounds of privilege or relevance. In other matters, the party can claim the requested information does not exist, conceal it, or ignore the questions.

A party can send a meet and confer letter to the opposing party following the denial. This occurs when the party questions the other side's objection. The meeting will address objections to any requested items, documents, or information. If unsuccessful, a party can file a motion for sanctions against the other side to request that the judge rule on the issues.

How Does Mediation Work in a Personal Injury Case?

Mediation is an informal proceeding and an attempt to reach an agreement between involved parties. The role of a mediator is to facilitate a resolution between both sides. Mediators may often be former or current judges overseeing the matter.

What is the Purpose of a Request for Admission?

A request for admission is a type of written discovery. It compels the opposing party to fulfill its obligation to pay an injury case fairly. The purpose of a request for admission is for one party to admit to an acknowledged fact. This acknowledgment will be without any documents or testimony establishing liability.

A personal injury lawyer will send a contention interrogatory following a denial of a request for admission. This will move the case forward into further discovery of what the denial entails. A contention interrogatory asks the defendant to state the facts, produce documents, and name all witnesses supporting the denial. Requests for admissions must follow rules in the California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 2033.010 - 2033.080.

A party can face significant consequences for improperly denying a request for admission. The court can impose sanctions for an improper denial of a request for admission. The sanction includes the costs of retaining experts and the attorney's time in proving the facts in the matter. Costs represented in dollar amounts prove the expenses for proving the improperly denied fact.

What is Arbitration in a Civil Case?

A personal injury case often moves forward to arbitration to reach a resolution. An arbitrator selected for binding arbitrations is often an attorney with substantial experience or a retired judge. Their familiarity with evaluating cases is essential to understanding where both sides come from. That is why the insight of an arbitrator may be useful and persuasive in evaluating such claims.

Arbitration awards come in two types, including non-binding and binding. Non-binding arbitration awards come from third-party insurance claims. Conversely, a binding arbitration award comes from a first-party insurance claim.

Binding arbitration awards are generally through uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Non-binding arbitration awards provide a neutral valuation of the claim that is not a final decision. In binding arbitration, the decision is final.

Why Are Personal Injury Cases Taken to Trial?

While most injury cases settle out of civil court, some may proceed to trial. This occurs when the defense disagrees with the amount demanded by the plaintiff's counsel. In other situations, there may be disputes regarding liability for the incident or the extent of damages incurred. Substantial time and preparation for the trial are necessary.

Plaintiffs must be aware that the opposing side may appeal cases despite a favorable jury award at trial. The appellate process is often challenging to navigate. Having an experienced Sacramento, CA, personal injury attorney handle these legal matters is often useful.

Is California a Comparative Fault State?

The state of California follows the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. This refers to the assessment of liability in personal injury lawsuits. The court assigns the percentage of negligence to each involved party based on their contribution to the incident. See California Civil Code Section 1714 for more details.

Insurance companies and defense counsel often use comparative fault as a defense tactic. Remember that most insurers use strategies to minimize liability to avoid payouts. Protecting your rights starts with hiring an experienced injury lawyer in California. Your attorney will work diligently to ensure that the opposing party does not unfairly shift fault onto you.

Can a Pre-Existing Condition Affect an Accident Claim?

A pre-existing condition refers to a medical condition or injury a plaintiff had before the accident. Disclosing a pre-existing condition in a claim for damages is necessary. Pre-existing conditions are factors included in the value of an accident case. That is because a pre-existing condition may reduce the amount of compensation awarded in a civil case.

A pre-existing medical condition does not prevent a claimant from seeking compensation. Compelling evidence must demonstrate that the incident resulted in the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. This may include medical records before and after the incident, depositions from treating physicians, and expert witness testimony.

What is the Statute of Limitations in California for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations is a law that imposes a strict time limit a claimant must follow when filing a lawsuit in civil court. A claimant must file a case in civil court within two years of the incident date. This is by the California Code of Civil Code Procedure Section 335.1. Understanding how this legal rule applies to a civil case is essential to its favorable outcome.

If a case involves a government agency, it shortens the statute of limitations to six months. The California Government Code Section 911.2 outlines this. Most notices of claims result in denial letters. A claimant generally has six months from the date of a denial letter to file a lawsuit in court.

After getting in an accident in Sacramento County or elsewhere in California, retain legal counsel immediately. The best injury lawyer will meet all filing criteria and deadlines in your case. Speak with our legal team to determine the applicable statute of limitations in your potential case.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in California?

Most California personal injury lawyers operate on contingency. No hourly costs, upfront fees, or retainer apply under a contingent fee agreement. Injury victims have the opportunity to retain legal counsel without the burden of costs for legal representation. Our Sacramento personal injury attorneys offer free case reviews and work on contingency.

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Important Reasons to Hire a Top Law Office

With so many law firms to choose from in Sacramento and throughout California, you may wonder why you should work with our legal team at When choosing a law office over other personal injury lawyers and firms, consider the following:

  • Exclusive Practice of Personal Injury Law: Our law firm exclusively handles personal injury cases. Our extensive experience has equipped us to handle a wide array of matters, including motor vehicle collisions, slip and fall accidents, product liability, and more.
  • Extensive Experience Setting the Law Firm Apart: Since 1982, our law office has represented clients in Sacramento County and across the state of California with a proven track record of success. Our commitment to client success is reflected in our work and history of case results.
  • Compassionate Support and Guidance: Our attorneys are available to review your potential case in a free consultation. We strive to provide caring guidance, answer questions, and assist clients in making well-informed decisions in their case moving forward.

Whether you prefer in-person meetings, telephone consultations, or Zoom video calls, our legal team is here to help and accommodate your needs. When you select our team of personal injury lawyers to handle your accident case, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Obtaining justice and full compensation starts with working with a skilled injury attorney serving the Sacramento area. Contact our legal team at for free, friendly case advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We offer multilingual services in free case reviews.

When searching for the best personal injury attorney near you, some key things to look for include client ratings and case results.

For attorneys, recognition of their work is essential for establishing credibility in the community. We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. These groups recognize lawyers with a track record of success and demonstration of excellence in legal practice.

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Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed! Alex & Dinah M.
"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
"Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime." Jeremy M.
"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
"Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury." David M.
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