In injured on the job in California you have the option to keep your workers compensation claim open for life, having the option of seeking care for those injuries whenever you need it, for the duration of your lifetime. This is not so in a civil, personal injury matter.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
In a personal injury matter there is an applicable statute of limitations, which means there is a time constraint within which you must either
- Resolve your personal injury claim, or
- File a personal injury lawsuit to preserve your claim
The typical statute is two years. Thus, you must within two years be able to fully identify and articulate the extent of your injuries. If your injuries are permanent, this means you must predict how those injuries will affect you in the future and how much treatment will cost to manage those injuries. This can be a very daunting task.
PERSONAL INJURY EXPERT TESTIMONY
To establish the extent of your injuries you will need personal injury expert testimony. This expert testimony comes in the form of medical opinions. You need a doctor to tell you what your injury is and how it will affect you. With the challenges in healthcare it is oftentimes not so easy to get access to medical care. Without medical care, you will not have a diagnosis of your injury and what the significance of that injury will be in the future, how it will be relevant as you age. Even with access to medical care, many facilities are not interested in giving strong opinions regarding the nature of an injury basically because they do not want to be involved in any personal injury litigation. More and more we are seeing client’s whose primary care will not see them if their injuries were sustained in a car accident. Thus, the burden of proving your injuries can be challenging.
With the help of a personal injury attorney, an injured person can get access not only to medical care, but to medical care that won’t be afraid to make an opinion as to the extent and cause of the injuries. It is based on these opinions that other personal injury experts will create a report detailing what your medical needs will be, how much those medical needs will cost, and how the injuries could affect your ability to earn income and if so, how much future income you will lose out on as a result of the injuries. These personal injury experts do cost money, sometimes a lot of money, to get their findings. Thus another benefit of having a personal injury attorney – the attorney will front these costs, to be later deducted from any recovery. Many people would have trouble paying for proper care and paying for the proper opinions that detail their permanent injuries.
Without the proper documentation of your injuries, and opinion as to what your future medical needs and costs will be, when the time comes to resolve your personal injury litigation case you will not be in a good position to make an assessment as to the value of your claim. This means that you will run the risk of permanently settling your claim for far less than it is worth. A personal injury attorney retained well before your statute of limitations approaches can be invaluable in detailing the nature of your case.