100+ Things We Do For Our Clients…

California wrongful death lawyers use checklist to protect clients legal rightsMost people are not really aware of all the things some lawyers do to help protect their clients. When our clients experience a personal injury or a loved one suffers a wrongful death, many things need to be done.

First of all, we’re not sure what other lawyers do for their clients. What we share below is simply an overview of what we do and recommend that other attorneys do for their clients. This list is based on almost 3 decades of experience and is by no means all inclusive. In any case, this list should give you a good idea about what to expect.

Normally, after we meet with you and are hired (normally on a contingency fee basis), there are many things we do to protect your interest and to help get your case ready for settlement, mediation, arbitration or trial.  Although listed in bullet-point fashion, one or more of the following items are usually done together with some items dependent upon another.

This list is by no means all inclusive and not every step is required to be done in every case.  Also, please keep in mind that certain steps– law firm “insider secrets”– are purposefully excluded (we don’t want to tip off the insurance companies on some of the things we do).  Even so, we hope this list gives you some idea of what we, and other experienced lawyers, can bring to the table and do for you.

Accident or Collision Cases

  • Assist you with getting quality medical care, treatment or surgery (via your own doctor or we can recommend well respected experts in the community)
  • Immediately help with any pressing family/collision related issues
  • Determine correct defendants and theories of liability- research law and causes of action
  • Coordinate all medical bills paid by health insurance and/or automobile med pay
  • Coordinate medical liens if necessary (doctors are paid at end of case- no out of pocket expenses for you)
  • Obtain traffic collision report
  • Notify all interested parties by telephone and in writing of our legal representation of you
  • Have investigator interview all drivers and witnesses either in person or by phone depending on the facts and issues
  • Have investigator obtain declarations, under oath, of important witnesses
  • Send letter/telephone each driver- send registered owner 5 page questionnaire asking for their version of the facts
  • Send a declaration to the “at fault” driver asking him or her to admit responsibility for the accident
  • Send letter/telephone to each driver and registered owner asking for full declaration re disclosure of all insurance coverage such as auto, homeowner, umbrella…
  • Send letter/telephone all insurance companies and claim adjusters representing each driver and owner
  • Depending on the type of case, request specific documents, items and things from other side’s insurance company (auto, motorcycle, large truck, train, plane, premises liability, professional malpractice, dog bite, brain injury, paralysis, burn, assault, battery or wrongful death- detailed list of items are used for each different type of case)
  • Make formal demand to preserve all evidence
  • Determine if any of the drivers were operating their vehicle while in the scope and course of employment (company may also be liable and additional insurance/assets may be available)
  • Send letter/telephone to each witness with 4 page questionnaire asking for detailed description of what they observed
  • Send letter to the DMV reporting the accident pursuant to California law (SR1 report)
  • Send letter to the DMV requesting disclosure of insurance information on other driver (SR19 report)
  • Investigate scene of collision (pictures/videos of intersection/road, skid marks, obstructions, damaged property, view from each driver’s perspective while driving down street…)
  • Collect and preserve evidence from collision scene or vehicle such as broken glass, damaged tires, improperly working seat belts, torn and blood stained clothing…
  • Determine location of vehicles (tow yard or storage facility) and document damage with photographs and video tape
  • Coordinate rental car for client until property damage is finalized
  • Investigate and ascertain costs of repair or replacement value of our client’s vehicle and other property damage (broken cell phone, glasses, and other personal items)
  • Coordinate and negotiate repair or replacement of our client’s vehicle with insurance claims adjuster
  • Coordinate property damage deductible reimbursement to client from insurance company
  • Coordinate and obtain copies of all medical records and billings
  • Coordinate payment of all outstanding medical billings by health insurance or automobile med pay coverage
  • Use special declaration to ascertain all loss of earnings and benefits you sustained or lost because of this collision
  • Use special document to determine all out of pocket expenses and losses you sustained or lost because of this collision
  • In wrongful death cases, coordinate independent autopsy if necessary
  • In wrongful death cases, coordinate funeral service expenses
  • In wrongful death cases, coordinate veteran benefits
  • In wrongful death cases, refer client to estate planning specialist to review and update all estate planning documents
  • In wrongful death cases, review all life insurance policies to determine benefits to client and other survivors
  • In wrongful death cases, ascertain financial losses to family such as loss of income or retirement plan benefits
  • In wrongful death cases, conduct extensive interview with surviving family members to ascertain relationship and loss (loss of love, society, companionship and affection)
  • Counsel client(s) as to all available legal theories, responsible defendants and causes of action
  • Conduct professional asset background check of defendant (real estate, bank accounts, investments, beneficiary of an estate plan…)
  • Initiate settlement and jury verdict search re similar settlements and verdicts
  • Pull and review prior cases handled by our firm together with previous legal analysis and legal pleadings, discovery, and trial items
  • Put together and discuss with you our draft settlement demand package and/or presentation (written demand letter setting forth and attaching copies of all important facts, traffic collision report, theories of liability, description of injuries, damages, future medical issues, treatment, surgery and damages, all medical records and billings, loss of earnings, other out of pocket losses, our assessment of similar state and national settlements and verdicts with attachments, a summary of similar cases and results by our firm with attachments, supporting medical, economic, accident reconstruction, biomechanical expert opinions as needed, photographs, charts, graphs, draft lawsuit…)
  • Early in case, prepare draft jury instructions and draft of opening and closing arguments (few lawyers do this early in the case)
  • Coordinate settlement dialoge as needed and communicate all important facts and opinions to client for final decision
  • Apply three decades and thousands of cases of experience to attempt to negotiate settlement for full value pursuant to client’s authority
  • Follow up with all the above until everything is done and all necessary information is obtained

If Case is Not Settled and Litigation Becomes Necessary

  • Additional research of law and available causes of action (if needed)
  • Prepare Superior Court Summons and Complaint alleging all viable causes of action
  • Coordinate the filing of the Summons and Complaint with Civil Cover sheet with the clerk of the Superior Court
  • Calendar all post-filing filing dates (5-10) and service on defendant and for return of Summons
  • Review assigned judge and file document/motion to request new judge if necessary
  • Contact and retain consulting and trial related experts
  • If necessary, use investigator and/or online services to location defendant’s for service
  • Prepare Statement of Damages and coordinate service of process on defendant
  • Special letter to defendant with copy of lawsuit explaining defendant’s first party bad faith rights against his own insurance company
  • Review incoming Answer, Demurrer or Motion to Strike from defendant’s lawyers hired by defendant’s insurance company
  • Telephone call to defense counsel to introduce ourselves and to discuss case issues and possible settlement
  • Review defendants initial Judicial Council Form Interrogatories, Special Interrogatories, Inspection Demand, and Notice of Deposition (discovery)
  • Send instructional letter to client with defendant’s initial discovery
  • Calculate and calendar all dates client’s discovery responses are due
  • If defendant served a Demurrer or Motion to Strike, prepare and filed Oppositions and calendar all response and hearing dates
  • As required by the Code of Civil Procedure, review client’s responses to all discovery and prepare and service original verified responses to defendant’s attorney
  • On behalf of client, prepare and served client’s initial discovery to defendant (Judicial Council Form Interrogatories, Special Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, Demand to Produce Documents, and Notice of Deposition
  • Calendar and appear at court ordered Case Management Conference
  • Prepare client and attend client’s deposition at defense attorney’s office
  • Take defendant’s deposition (traditional or video) at our office
  • Take deposition of all important witnesses
  • Review incoming Demand for Independent Medical Examination (IME) from defendant
  • Special letter to client with copy of IME and coordinate final IME instructions and date
  • Prepare and respond to IME with special pleading regarding certain terms and conditions
  • Client appears at IME with our office either recording or videotaping examination process
  • Receive and review defendant doctor’s IME report
  • Receive and forward defendant’s supplemental discovery (Special Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, and Inspection Demand)
  • Prepare and serve on defendant our client’s supplemental discovery (Special Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, and Inspection Demand)
  • Prepare for and attend continued Case Management Conference or initial Status Conference and set trial date
  • Letter to client with all mandatory dates and date of trial
  • Coordinate pre-trial settlement mediation or arbitration if ordered by the court or thought useful by counsel
  • Prepare mediation or arbitration briefs and documents
  • Prepare client for mediation or arbitration
  • Appear with client at mediation or arbitration and present case
  • If case is resolved via mediation or arbitration, prepare settlement documents and file notice with court
  • If case is resolved via mediation or arbitration, coordinate deposit of settlement funds in to trust account
  • If case is resolved via mediation or arbitration, disburse funds to client with detailed final financial statement
  • If case is NOT resolved via mediation or arbitration, continue with pre-trial preparation and requirements
  • If required, file opposition to defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment
  • If required, prepare and file plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment
  • Prepare Demand for Exchange of Expert Information and serve notice to other side
  • If ordered or coordinated, prepare for and attend with client a court order pre-trial Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC)
  • Prepare and serve response to Demand for Expert Exchange
  • Notice and take depositions of expert witnesses
  • Coordinate other side taking depositions or our client’s expert witnesses
  • Coordinate and comply with all mandatory pre-trial discovery and trial document dates (about 75 specific dates)
  • File jury fees
  • Schedule pre-trial issue conference with opposing counsel
  • Obtain all final medical records and billings and any other evidence (photos, videos…) that will be used at trial
  • Participate with opposing counsel re pre-trial stipulations to save all parties time and money
  • Coordinate the appearance of trial witnesses at trial
  • Issue subpoena’s to compel attendance of trial witnesses if needed
  • Prepare all pre-trial Motions in Limine
  • Prepare and coordinate with opposing counsel Joint Exhibit List
  • Prepare and coordinate with opposing counsel Joint Statement of the Case
  • Prepare and coordinate with opposing counsel Joint Stipulated Facts
  • Prepare and coordinate with opposing counsel Joint Jury Instructions
  • Prepare and coordinate with opposing counsel Joint Witness List
  • Prepare and coordinate with opposing counsel Joint Verdict Forms
  • Attorney pre-trial final preparation re voir dire (jury selection questions and strategy), opening statement, direct examination, cross examination, and closing argument
  • Prepare and participate at the trial (normally 1 to 3 weeks of time)
  • If appropriate, review and file Opposition to defendant’s post-trial motions (Motion for New Trial, Motion for Judgment Not Withstanding the Verdict…)
  • If appropriate, attend post-trial hearing(s) to oppose defendant’s motions
  • If appropriate, coordinate with client on post-trial appeal issues and representation


Mitch Jackson and Lisa Wilson are Orange County California personal injury and wrongful death lawyers- accidents, motorcycle accidents and large truck accidentsWere you aware of all the above steps?  As you can see, there’s a great deal of work that goes into a personal injury or wrongful death case.  It’s kind of like a chess match. Because you only have one opportunity to obtain a settlement or verdict in your case, it’s important that you do everything you can to maximize your chances of success.

Please give us a call if you have questions or need help your personal injury or wrongful death case.  We always look forward to putting our almost 3 decades of experience and expertise to work for our valued clients.  But don’t simply take our word for it.  See our client testimonials and case results!



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Senior Partner Selected 2015 Southern California Super Lawyer

california super lawyer 2015 250Jon Mitchell “Mitch” Jackson named 2015 California Super Lawyer

Super Lawyers is an independent rating service that rates lawyers in your community in more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. Super Lawyers is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazines across the country.

“When it comes to law, there’s nothing Lisa and I enjoy doing more than helping people who have been harmed by the wrongdoing of others and holding people and companies accountable for their negligent or intentional wrongful conduct. I’m honored to be included with all the outstanding lawyers on this year’s list”

–Mitch Jackson


Mitch has been named a Southern California Super Lawyer in 9 out of the past 10 years

2015 Southern California Super Lawyers
2014 Southern California Super Lawyers
2013 Southern California Super Lawyers
2012 Southern California Super Lawyers
2011 Southern California Super Lawyers
2010 Southern California Super Lawyers
2009 Southern California Super Lawyers
2008 Southern California Super Lawyers
2006 Southern California Super Lawyers

Click here to see other partner awards and recognitions

Evaluating a Wrongful Death Case with an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney

Orange County Wrongful Death AttorneyOrange County Wrongful Death Cases are Challenging. Here’s What You Need to Know!

If you have lost a loved one in an Orange County accident, you and other surviving family members may be entitled to damages. Wrongful death actions can be extremely difficult and emotionally draining. As a result, you will want to work with an experienced Orange County wrongful death lawyer to help evaluate your claim and review your options.

How to Prove Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim

California wrongful death law requires you to show several elements to prove fault in an Orange County wrongful death action. Even if there is a direct link between an accident and death, there is no guarantee that you can collect damages. Some elements that you may need to prove include:

  • Duty. The defendant must owe a duty to the Orange County victim such as the duty to keep the victim safe or away from danger. In other words, you will need to prove a relationship between the defendant and the victim
  • Breach of Duty. The defendant must have breached his or her duty to keep the victim safe such as by acting carelessly or unreasonably given the circumstances
  • Causation. The act by the defendant needs to have led to the Orange County accident
  • Death. This may sound obvious, but you will need to show that someone died in a California wrongful death action. This is what separates an Orange County wrongful death from other types of negligence actions
  • Relationship to Victim. You typically need to show that you are an immediate relative of the Orange County wrongful death victim to collect damages.

Collecting Damages With an Orange County Wrongful Death Lawyer

Your wrongful death lawyer can help you evaluate your claim and determine if you are eligible for damages. Some types of damages that you may be able to collect include:

  • Medical Costs. You may be able to collect the costs of medical bills and hospital expenses relating to the Orange County wrongful death case. In addition, you may collect for the costs of any drugs and other medication
  • Loss of Support. If you or other family members relied upon the deceased financially, you may be entitled to recover for the loss of financial support because of the Orange County wrongful death
  • Punitive Damages. In extreme cases where the defendant acted egregiously or recklessly, you may be entitled to collect punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the victim and can be significant.

More details about California and Orange County wrongful death cases (links, articles and videos) can be found at our popular blog post entitled, “Wrongful Death Lawyers in Orange County” 

Contact an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have a question about a wrongful death claim, please feel free to contact an Orange County wrongful death attorney at Jackson & Wilson by clicking here or calling 800.661.7044 for an evaluation of your claim.

Backup Cameras in Cars

Backup cameras in cars and child safetyLately, there’s been a great deal of concern over children being left in their hot vehicles. We wrote about children and heat-related car deaths here and shared several good safety tips to avoid this from happening.

Another very big problem involving children and vehicles that we’re not hearing too much about is the tragedy of young children being run over by vehicles backing up down the street or from their driveway. Truly unthinkable nightmares for everyone involved and in most cases, accidents that probably could have been avoided.

NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes. The agency said that children and the elderly are the most common victims. Children are killed in about 44% of such fatal accidents. A third of the fatalities are people over 70. Over the years, we’ve handled a number of these cases. All could have been avoided had everyone involved paid more attention to what was going on.

Because of our experiences in these matters, we think it is a good idea that the federal government require all automobile manufactures install backup cameras in all new vehicles. Owners of older vehicles might want to purchase an after market backup camera to improve safety.

Good backup cameras and related devices are designed to keep drivers from running over pedestrians (including unsuspecting young children) who might be playing or crossing behind a vehicle. The systems typically come with a bell or alarms that alerts the driver if something is located close by within the field of view of the camera.

“There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. A good back up camera will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up.

Safety tipBefore backing up your vehicle, walk around the back of it to make sure someone isn’t walking, sitting or playing in the area.  Then, after getting in the vehicle, check all mirrors and your backup camera before putting the vehicle in to reverse.  Begin very slowly and proceed with caution.  Quick and sudden movements should be avoided. Honking your horn will also alert everyone behind you that you will be backing up.

Orange County Dog Bites and Dog Attacks- Have You Been Bitten By a Vicious Dog?

Dog bite attorney in Orange County CaliforniaMost people are not aware of the fact that each year across Orange County and the United States, close to 5,000,000 people are bitten or attacked by dogs. Of these dog bite victims, about 340,000 require emergency treatment and result in more than 1,000 dog bite hospital emergency room visits each day. Tragically, about 20 of these dog attacks result in loss of human life.

[Legal Update- One of our cases involving a dog harmed by a neighbor made new California law. Click here to read…]

Most dog bite victims are children who are bitten or attacked in their face and hands. Because you never know what the disposition of a dog is, it’s usually best to first talk to a dog owner before ever approaching and petting a dog. Children should be taught to approach dogs slowly and to allow the dog to get comfortable with him or her before trying to pet the animal.

When you really think about all of the unknowns, it’s probably best to avoid strange dogs altogether. The fact of the matter is that because we’ve handled so many disfiguring and life changing dog bite cases over the years, we think it’s smart to simply avoid putting yourself or child in a location or position that might result in a dog bite or attack. Dogs are animals and you just never know what they are going to do.

Dangerous and Vicious Dogs

According to Orange County Animal Care (OCAC), a dog can be determined to be dangerous or vicious if it behaves in any of the follow three ways:

First, if unprovoked, it engages in any behavior that requires a person to take defensive action to avoid bodily injury. The behavior must happen on two separate occasions with the prior 36-month period and it doesn’t matter if the behavior happens on or off the dog owner’s property.

Second, if the dog bites a person while unprovoked and causes an injury less severe than a “severe injury”.

Third, if the dog, when unprovoked, kills or seriously injures a domestic animal, horse or livestock.

Under California law, a “vicious” dog means

(1) any dog used and seized as a “fighting animal” under Penal Code 599a;

(2) Any dog, which unprovoked and in an aggressive manner, causes severe injury or death to a human being. Again, it doesn’t matter if the behavior happens on or off the owner’s property;

(3) Any dog previously determined to be a potentially dangerous dog that continues to act as a potentially dangerous dog. If certain restrictions were previously placed on a potentially dangerous dog and those restrictions are violated by the owner, then the dog can be determined to be a dangerous and vicious dog.


Keep in mind that there are certain common sense exceptions to the above guidelines and rules. For example, if someone is trespassing on to your property or breaking in to your house and your dog attacks, then your dog would not be deemed to have acted as a dangerous or vicious dog.

dog bite lawyer in orange county ca

In most California dog bite cases, a victim does not need to show that the dog owner was negligent or careless. In fact, pursuant to California Civil Code §3342, the owner of a dog is “strictly liable” for all dog bite related injuries and harm. Other California codes and court cases expand liability to include being knocked down by a dog while standing, walking or even riding a bike.


Over the years, we’ve represented dog bite victims who have been bitten in their faces, hands, chest and ankles. We helped clients who have lost fingers, parts of their hand, toes and even an ear to dog attacks.  The above is a trial exhibit of a 15 month old boy who was bitten in the face by a neighbor’s dog.  After being attached, his mother reached down to pull the dog off of her son.  The dog turned, grabbed the mother by the throat, and also took her to the ground.

We were able to successfully help these clients and to this day, still stay in touch.  We’d like to think that we’ve done a good job for our dog bite clients. Hopefully, their testimonials and posted case results speak for themselves.

When handling serious dog bite cases, there’s a right and wrong way to right the wrong, fix the harm, and maximize the results. Call us and we’ll be happy to take the time to explain the difference. We’ve been helping Orange County dog bite victims since 1986 and chances are, we can help you too.


Orange County lawyer Youtube videosVideo- Dog bites client’s finger off!

Video- Dog Bite Cases- Trial exhibits and maximizing your settlement or verdict

Video- Dog Bite Cases- Our message to dog owners

Click here to watch more dog bite related videos on our Youtube Channel