Although many motorcycle accidents in California are resolved via settlement, some cases will go to court. Here is a look at the legal process for a lawsuit involving a motorcycle accident in California and the process surrounding the litigation.
Filing A Lawsuit
The legal process for motorcycle accidents in California begins when a complaint is filed, laying out the victim’s legal claims, and is served to the party who is believed to be at fault. This party, known as the defendant, is given 30 days to file their answer with the court and to tell their account of what happened.
The next step involves a process known as discovery. Both sides will gather as much information on the motorcycle accident as possible regarding the accident and the damages involved. This may include bills, medical records, and other information related to damages and fault in the accident.
Depositions will be taken that consist of live testimony from both parties involved in the suit, along with any witnesses. The injured party may also be required to undergo a physical examination by a doctor hired by the other side. Experts will be hired and deposed to prove what caused the accident.
Some lawsuits involve filing different motions with the court during or after discovery. Both parties can file these documents and resolve certain legal issues before the case goes to trial, ensuring that all issues have been handled regarding the accident. They are legally complex and can significantly impact the outcome of the case.
Next, the case will be assigned a trial date where both parties will need to be present. This typically occurs 12 to 18 months in the future, depending on the county where the suit is filed and its current caseload.
Pretrial Settlement Conference
Once a lawsuit is officially underway, and a trial date has been set, many California judges will require the parties involved to make a final effort to work out a settlement and avoid going to trial. This is known as a pretrial settlement conference. In many cases, the party liable for the accident will take the opportunity to negotiate a settlement at this point to avoid the uncertainty of what could happen during the trial.
If the parties fail to reach a settlement and decide to proceed with a trial, they must appear in court on the scheduled date. The injured party must prove before the court that the defendant is liable for the accident and that the injuries they suffered directly resulted from it.
These cases may last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on the number of experts and witnesses that are called to testify, as well as the overall complexity of the case.
A judge or a panel of jurors will determine whether the burden of proof has been met and how much the case is worth. While the injured party’s lawyer will make a strong case for what they deserve to receive in compensation, juries, and judges can disregard this and choose an award that they feel is appropriate. The outcome of these cases can be complicated to predict.
Remember that you may be offered a settlement at any point during the California motorcycle accident legal process, from the case’s earliest days through litigation and even the trial itself. The terms of any settlement must be accepted by both parties to resolve the claim.
Although this can help both parties to avoid the time and expense of a trial, settling does take some time and still requires presenting evidence to prove damages. There will often be multiple rounds of negotiations until a figure is reached that both sides can agree upon.
If both parties agree on a settlement, you will be asked to sign a settlement release declaring that the dispute is permanently closed and that you will not bring claims for further damages in the future.
Therefore, it is essential to work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to ensure you are receiving a fair settlement that addresses your current injuries and those that may arise in the future. Once you settle, you will not be able to pursue further damages if you require additional care related to the accident in the future.
Contact The Experienced California Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is essential to remember that the insurance company is not on your side. You need to work with a motorcycle accident attorney with the expertise needed to help you receive the best settlement possible in your case.
The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Lehr Law, APC have experience negotiating motorcycle accident settlements and representing motorcycle accident victims in court. Contact us today to discuss your case.