You got hurt on someone else’s property. Maybe you know exactly what happened, or maybe you aren’t sure. But, in either case, there was nothing you could do to protect yourself, and now you are suffering the consequences of someone else’s mistake.
So, how do you file a premises liability claim in California?
A Warning: Filing a Premises Liability Claim Is Not Easy
Before we discuss the steps involved in filing a premises liability claim, we do want to be clear in saying that filing a premises liability claim is not easy. There are numerous steps involved, and even getting the property owner (or its insurance company) to take your claim seriously can be a challenge.
For these reasons, among others, if you believe you have a claim, it is strongly in your best interests to speak with an attorney.
10 Steps Involved in Filing a Premises Liability Claim in California
1. Seek Medical Attention
In order to file a premises liability claim, you need to have proof of the timing, cause, and extent of your injuries. This means that the first thing you should do after being injured is to seek medical attention promptly. If you have been seriously injured, you need to obtain not only medical treatment but a clear understanding of what you need to do in order to recover.
2. Collect Your Evidence
Collect any and all evidence you have available. Typically, this will include photos from the scene of the accident, your damaged clothing and personal items, and your medical records. It is a good idea to take notes as well—the more details you can recall, the better your chances will be of proving your claim for damages.
3. Learn About Your Legal Rights
In order to file a premises liability claim, you need to have a clear understanding of your legal rights. What facts establish another party’s liability for your injuries? What losses are you entitled to recover? Here, too, the more you know, the better off you will be.
4. Make Sure You Still Have Time to File
Before you put the time and effort into filing a premises liability claim, you need to make sure you still have time to file. In California, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims is 2 years from the date of the accident. However, in case you need to file a lawsuit (more on this below), you will want to initiate your insurance claim well before the statute of limitations expires.
5. Contact the Property or Business Owner
Once these initial steps are complete, your next step is to contact the owner of the property or business where you fell. This should generally be handled by your attorney. There are right and wrong ways to notify a property or business owner of your claim, and making mistakes at this stage could make it far more difficult to secure just compensation.
6. Negotiate with the Property or Business Owner’s Insurance Company
In a typical case, this is the point at which settlement negotiations will begin. Homeowner’s insurance and commercial liability insurance policies cover premises liability claims, so your attorney (or you, if you choose to try to handle your claim yourself) will most likely be dealing with the property or business owner’s insurance company.
For non-attorneys, conversations with insurance company agents can be very intimidating. If you make a mistake or say the wrong thing, you may forfeit the ability to obtain the compensation you deserve. It truly is in your best interest to hire a lawyer for these interactions.
7. Calculate Your Total Losses
When negotiating, you need to know the full amount you are entitled to recover. In addition to current and future medical expenses and loss of income, California law also permits accident victims to pursue compensation for their non-economic damages.
8. Carefully Evaluate Any Settlement Offers You Receive
If you receive a settlement offer from the property or business owner’s insurance company, you will need to carefully evaluate the offer in order to determine whether it is in your best interests to settle. You only get to say “Yes” once; if you say “No,” there is no guarantee that you will get another offer.
9. Begin Preparing Your Claim for Trial
At some point, you will need to consider the possibility of taking your case to trial. The insurance company will be pressuring you to settle for less than you deserve, but, if you are serious about recovering just compensation, there may come a time when you need to consider going to court.
10. Fight for Just Compensation in Court If Necessary
Finally, if you don’t settle and your court date arrives, you will need to present your case to the judge or jury. Litigating a premises liability claim is an extraordinarily complex task, and you will need an experienced attorney who is prepared to represent you at trial.
Discuss Your Claim with Premises Liability Attorney Mickey Fine
Were you injured on someone else’s property? If so, we strongly encourage you to speak with an attorney about your legal rights.
To discuss your case in Bakersfield or Manhattan Beach, please call 661-333-3333 or contact the Law Offices of Mickey Fine today. Your initial consultation is complimentary!