California Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Process
Information & Assistance from Gill Law Group, PC in Orange County
You’ve talked to a motorcycle accident lawyer about your wreck and you’ve decided to seek compensation from the liable party. What happens next? What does the average motorcycle accident lawsuit process look like in California? Gill Law Group, PC is here to help you understand the basics and a few other things you should know before your case takes off.
Average Process of a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
A motorcycle accident lawsuit in California will usually follow these steps:
A motorcycle accident occurs that was caused by someone other than the motorcyclists. In California, pure comparative negligence rules mean that a motorcyclist can pursue compensation even if they think they might be partially liable for the crash.
2. Medical Care
Anyone who has been in a motorcycle accident should seek medical care as soon as possible, even if they think they only suffered minor injuries. Most motorcycle accident claims will not go far at all if there is no medical record to validate the existence and cause of their injuries.
When medical care has been handled, an injured motorcyclist should reach out to a local motorcycle accident attorney to tell them what happened. If the attorney can take their case, then they will usually begin it by investigating available evidence and possibly looking for more evidence that has not already been collected.
4. Damage Calculation
The motorcycle accident attorney will add up the motorcyclist’s damages, which should include those already incurred and those that will be incurred in the future. Damages can include medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, as well as more abstract damages related to pain and suffering.
5. Demand Letter
The motorcycle accident attorney will send a demand letter to the liable party and insurance companies. This letter demands that they pay the calculated damages to their client, or they will be forced to file a lawsuit.
Most insurance companies don’t want to deal with a lawsuit, so they will try to negotiate a fair settlement amount first. The attorney will try to negotiate a settlement agreement that is fair to their client, but, ultimately, the client gets the final say in whether the settlement is accepted or not.
If a settlement is not immediately possible, then the motorcycle accident attorney will need to file an official complaint against the at-fault party with the court and before California’s two-year statute of limitations expires. The at-fault party has 30 days to respond, which will probably be a denial of liability at this point. Filing a civil lawsuit in California will come at varying costs, with it costing more and more as you demand more and more in damages from the defendant. Filing costs can be awarded as part of the plaintiff’s compensation, though, if the case is successful.
Both sides will look for evidence of liability and share necessary evidence as needed. Discovery lets both sides reassess their chances if the case goes to court. Keep in mind that a settlement can be reached at any point, and it sometimes follows the discovery process if the defendant is convinced that they will probably lose during litigation.
If there are any additional legal troubles or concerns surrounding the case, then attorneys from both sides might need to file various motions with the court. For example, a motion could be requested to label some evidence as inadmissible due to it being gathered through unlawful means.
10. Trial Schedule
It can take more than a year to get a trial date set for a motorcycle accident case in busy areas of California. In Orange County, the courts are often full of other cases, so a trial scheduled there could take up to 18 months. This alone can encourage both sides to try negotiations again.
11. Pretrial Settlement
In an attempt to keep courts open, California judges usually require plaintiffs and defendants to attempt a settlement negotiation at least one more time before the scheduled trial date. During pretrial settlements, most motorcycle accident cases are able to come to a close because both sides would rather avoid prolonged litigation.
If no settlement is reached by the trial date, then the trial will commence. Both sides will be able to make arguments as to why they are correct, present evidence to back their arguments, make cross-examinations, and so forth. When the trial ends, the court will give its judgment, which could be issued by the judge alone or with a jury, depending on the circumstances of the case. In most cases, only the defense can appeal the outcome of a trial.
How Long Will My Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Take?
With everything considered, a motorcycle accident lawsuit in California could take about six months at the shortest if it is able to conclude during initial settlement negotiations after the original demand letter is sent. If the case has to go all the way to trial, though, then the timeline could be much longer and take a year or two to conclude.
Get Started Today!
For more information about the California motorcycle accident lawsuit process and what our firm can do to help you through it, call Gill Law Group, PC at (949) 681-9952 or contact us online. We offer complimentary consultations to inquiring parties throughout Orange County, Irvine, and Brea.