Updated on April 19th, 2023

Starting a Car Accident Lawsuit

There is no denying that pursuing a personal injury lawsuit for the first time can be overwhelming. If you are thinking about filing a personal injury claim for damages, then it is important for you to have the knowledge of the process for a personal injury case. Whether you have been in an auto accident, other vehicle accident or even workplace accident, having knowledge of any personal injury lawsuit is of utmost importance. This article aims to answer general questions about how to file a car accident lawsuit.

What is a personal injury lawsuit?

It is a type of tort lawsuit in which a plaintiff who has suffered emotional, physical or financial harm sues a person or entity (the defendant) responsible for the suffering. An injury claim helps the plaintiff enforce their rights and receive monetary damages for their losses.

Steps to Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California

Here are 8 steps that can help you prepare for the process of a personal injury lawsuit:

1. Get Immediate Medical Help

After an accident, it is imperative for you to seek medical help even if you believe that your injuries are not much severe. If you notice no bruises or any other injury, you should still visit healthcare professional because there is a possibility of a concussion. Another main reason to get medical help is that your visit will be documented in the hospital records and this data will help prove that your injuries were indeed due to your accident.

2. Gather As Much Information As You Can

Now, this is a really important step for you. If your injuries are severe and you are alone, then it is best to get immediate medical help. But if you believe that you or your family member can gather information at the scene, then it can be really helpful to your case. Therefore, try to gather information by following these three ways:

    • Use Your Smartphone: Everyone has a smartphone these days. So, take out the phone and capture photos of the scene. Remember that whether your injury occurred in an auto accident or even a local accident, documenting the scene is extremely important. Don’t forget to take photos from different angles because these photos can be immensely helpful to your CA personal injury lawyer.
    • Obtain Contact Information: Witnesses are mostly present at the scene of the accident. Make sure you take their contact information (names, photo numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses) so that your CA personal injury lawyer can contact them to provide support to your version of events.
    • Personal Recollection: It is extremely important that you note down the information of accident in your phone, a small notebook or even by recording a video. The fresh memory of an accident can sometimes fade or make a person feel double-minded after some time. Therefore, note down your personal recollection because it will help your CA personal injury lawyer in negotiating with the insurance company or even at trial.


3. Report the Accident

You need to make sure that the accident is reported as soon as possible. A report can help preserve valuable information, so don’t waste any time or consider the idea of filing an accident report the next day.

4. Find a CA Personal Injury Attorney

Although you can file a personal injury claim, it is highly recommended to let a professional CA personal injury attorney handle the complex legal processes for you. Understand that not getting professional help can make you lose the case. Therefore, hire a CA personal injury lawyer so that you can focus on recovery while a professional handles the case for you. If you are still looking for an experienced CA personal injury lawyer, Brad Nakase is a perfect choice for you. He has over a decade of experience as an attorney and he has helped his clients win over $13 million. With his 98% success rate, Mr. Nakase can help you win the insurance claim or even the trial if needed.

5. Summon and Complaint

Your first filed document in the personal injury lawsuit is the “complaint.” The complaint will include important details such as the identities of parties involved, the legal claims, the facts that support your claim, etc.  There will be a section at the end of the complaint in which you’ll have to mention what you want the court to do. You can either enter the amount you want from the defendant (the amount for the damages) or you can ask the court to award an amount once the trial concludes.

Filing a complaint is simply not enough as you’ll have to make the defendant aware that he/she is being sued. This is called the “summon.” It is important that the defendant is properly served otherwise he/she can dismiss the lawsuit. It is best to consult with your attorney on serving the defendant because once the lawsuit is dismissed by the defendant, then you’ll have to re-file it.

6. Discovery and Fact-Finding

Once the defendant has responded (called “answer”), both parties start to gather information and facts. Your attorney will gather information such as names of examination of the accident scene, potential witnesses, and depositions. The documents will be shared by both parties so that their defense is prepared. There will be some paperwork involved along with answering questions with honesty. You’ll need to make sure that you don’t lie or share your opinion because a single lie could sabotage your credibility. According to law, disclosure of all the information before the trial is compulsory.

7. Motions

Certain rules for the litigation process are created by lawyers from both sides as they make motions e.g. sometimes motions are related to accidental questions. There is also “dispositive motion,” in which a ruling on a motion causes the termination of the lawsuit.

9. Negotiations and Settlements

It is important to understand that trials can not only be expensive, but time-consuming and emotionally draining as well. That’s why lawyers from both sides try to resolve the case before it goes to the trial.

    • Settlement: Settlement includes a detailed discussion on offers and counteroffers. Once both parties decide on a settlement amount, the case is resolved.
    • Mediation: Another option is of mediation which becomes a likable approach once both lawyers are stuck on a point and it seems there is no other way. A neutral party called “mediator” is called to help both parties agree on a settlement.
    • Arbitration: If lawyers can’t come to an agreeing point even after mediation, arbitration is another option. Both parties choose a neutral third party to resolve the dispute. Understand that when the third party “arbitrator” decides which party wins and the parties then use binding arbitration to settle the dispute.

10. Trial & Verdict

A civil personal injury lawsuit consists of six phases in which jury is chosen, opening statements are given by both lawyers, there are witness testimonies and cross-examinations, closing arguments by both lawyers, and jury verdict after deliberation. Once the judge and jury thoroughly examine all the provided evidence and witnesses testimonies, they make their decision. If the verdict is in your favor, you’ll be awarded money damages. In case the verdict isn’t in your favor, then you can appeal the decision. If you appeal the decision, each party would need to submit a brief to the appellate court. The appellate court will review the briefs and records of the trial court. Afterward, the appellate court will release an opinion will either confirm the verdict, reserve the verdict or even order a new trial if an error is found in the verdict made by the trial court.

Thinking About Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a good decision if you believe that there is enough evidence to support your claim. Even if you believe that you are partially responsible for the accident, then still there are chances of being awarded.

Attorney Brad Nakase has been fighting for the rights of injured victims since 2005 and has successfully won 98% of his clients in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside Country, Ventura County, and Orange County.


Brad Nakase, Attorney

Email Brad

Call or Write for a Free Confidential Consultation

If you or someone you love need an a aggressive and compassionate attorney who will listen and aggressively protect your interest, we invite you to call attorney Brad for a free consultation.

I’d like to hear your story. What happened?