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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most asked questions about personal injury cases in Los Angeles and throughout California. Our team at Panish Shea & Boyle, LLP have included answers for each of them.

Who Carries the Burden of Proof?

In civil lawsuits, the burden of proof falls to the plaintiff, wherein the plaintiff must demonstrate a majority of available evidence clearly indicates the defendant holds liability for the damages. This is different from criminal cases, where the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a shadow of doubt. Because of this, the court can find a defendant who faces both civil and criminal cases not guilty of criminal charges but still responsible for damages.

What is Affirmative Defense?

This defense takes place when the defendant claims he or she is not liable for reasons beyond the body of evidence gathered indicating liability. One example of this is comparative negligence, where both parties share fault. Another example of affirmative defense is assumption of risk where a plaintiff knowingly assumed the risk, thus absolving the defendant – at least in part. However, California law limits the use of this defense because it uses the “pure comparative negligence” doctrine. This allows the plaintiff to receive compensation for damages even in circumstances were his or her share of fault exceeds 50 percent.

What is Common Law?

Many laws classified under personal injury originate from “common law rules” that have existed for quite some time. These rules come from any law created by a judge in forming a judgment. These differ from legislative laws and statutes.

A judge’s decision on a case creates a precedent that justices in future cases must consider in similar going forward in the state court system. However, this only applies to courts below that judge’s court level. Over time, this applied precedent becomes binding and enters the “common law” status.

Common law varies state to state; as such, the laws are not uniform. However, the Restatement of Torts collects many of these laws and is a kind of guidebook explaining the rules. Many states use this book when dealing with personal injury cases.

Who Determines The Personal Injury Laws In Each State?

State legislatures, like those found in California can pass laws that touch on personal injury. Workers’ compensation laws separate workplace injuries from personal injury law, precluding many workers from suing their employers. States also passed laws regarding statute of limitations.

What Types Of Questions Are Asked During Deposition?

Going through a deposition can be a nerve-racking thing, even if you’ve done everything properly. Being prepared for the types of questions the defense attorney might ask you if the case goes to trial can make a big difference in the settlement you get:

  • What types of injuries and illnesses have you had prior to the accident?
  • Have you previously been involved in any other lawsuits or legal claims?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident?
  • Did you file an insurance claim?
  • What is the nature of your injury?
  • What is your job history?
  • How has your injury affected your life?
  • When was your last treatment?

Always answer questions honestly and truthfully. Your lawyer will be there to assist you in preparation and during the actual questioning.

How Does A Contingent Fee Work With My Los Angeles Personal Injury Case?

Contingency fees allow injured parties to hire an experienced personal injury attorney without having to pay any upfront legal fees. This allows the injured party to focus on recovering, giving them peace of mind instead of more bills. In these contingent arrangements, the law firm will cover all of their costs of investigations, securing medical records and expert witnesses, depositions and a whole host of other fees and incidental costs.

Is There A Time Limit On Filing A Claim?

California law requires a victim to file a claim or lawsuit within a predetermined amount of time from the date of injury. These are known as a “statute of limitation” and differ according to the type of personal injury. Here’s a breakdown of the maximum timeframes you can file in L.A.

Injury to Person – 2 years
Libel/Slander – 1 year
Trespassing – 3 years
Fraud – 3 years
Damage to Personal Property – 3 years
Professional Malpractice:
Legal – 1 year from discovery; maximum of 4 years from the act
Medical – 1 year from discovery; 3 years if injury is known
Veterinary – 1 year from injury/death of animal

At Panish, Shea, and Boyle, LLP, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyer team champion the rights of victims and consumers. We are not afraid of the size, political power, or financial resources of the wrongdoer. Our skilled accident attorneys have fought these battles on many occasions over the years and know how to thoroughly prepare a case from investigation to trial.

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