The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

What California Personal Injury Lawyers Wish You Knew


The law is a complicated thing. That’s why it takes so many years for lawyers to complete their educations, pass their certification exams, and become licensed to practice law. For the rest of us, the complexities of the law remain bewildering, and that’s OK.

But, sometimes, the complicated nature of the law can result in misunderstandings and misplaced fears that can hurt your best interests. Getting the wrong idea about some legal matters can result in unnecessary expenses, suffering, and missed opportunities. This is particularly true in the area of personal injury law, where inaction and other mistakes can cost you your chance at justice and personal and financial recovery.

This is why you should familiarize yourself with common misconceptions and mistakes, and make the right choices when it matters most. Here are some of the things that California’s personal injury lawyers wish you knew.

Most personal injury attorneys only charge you if you win

In theory, personal injury law makes it possible for anyone to seek justice after an injury, no matter what their financial circumstances might be. In fact, personal injury lawsuits are particularly relevant to those who are struggling financially — because of the accident, of course. But this wouldn’t work well if paying up-front for pricey attorneys were the only way to file such a lawsuit.

Happily, that’s not the case. Many personal injury attorneys offer clients a pretty sweet deal: If they don’t win any money for their clients, then those clients don’t have to pay. This is called working on contingency, and it means that you shouldn’t worry about whether or not you can afford to sue.

You don’t have unlimited time

The period after an accident can be a frightening and stressful one. It’s natural to want to put off chores like going to see an attorney. But you should know that in personal injury cases, time is of the essence.

California’s statutes of limitations cap the amount of time that can pass until certain types of legal filings are no longer accepted, and these statutes cover personal injury lawsuits just as thoroughly as they cover criminal charges. And even if you have plenty of time left on the statutes of limitations, time matters for evidence: With each passing day, evidence is being lost and witness’ memories are growing foggier. So don’t hesitate — make an appointment with an attorney.

Personal injury cases hinge on negligence

One common — and particularly toxic — misconception about personal injury law is that it delivers big settlements and court awards to undeserving parties. In the popular imagination, virtually any injury is a potential payday. But this isn’t true, and it harms the reputation of personal injury attorneys.

Here’s the reality: To build a strong personal injury case, you need to show that the party you’re suing was negligent. That negligence needs to have caused the accident, which needs to have caused your injuries and, therefore, all of the damages that you’re suing for.

You can help your attorney

If you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, then you should seek out expert personal injury lawyers for help. But it’s also important to know that you can help your attorney, too. It goes both ways.

To help your attorney build the strongest possible case, keep careful records and hold onto anything relevant to your case, from police reports to doctor’s notes and medical bills. Bring all of that to your initial consultation. From there, remain responsive to your attorney’s questions and requests. Do that, and you’ll have the best possible shot of winning your case.

More to Discover