Most car accident cases settle out of court through negotiations with the insurance company. Going to trial is costly and time-consuming for the parties involved and their insurance companies. For this reason, settling car accident claims out of court is often the best option unless the at-fault driver denies causing the accident or their insurance company refuses to pay the victim a fair settlement award.
Insurance companies have many tactics they use to limit settlement offers. Even if your claim is valid, they can challenge your injuries or accuse you of being partially liable for the accident. For these reasons, some claims do not settle, as insurers refuse to offer a fair amount.
In cases where the parties cannot reach an agreement, the only way to recover compensation for accident injuries is by going to trial. One party essentially forces the other to solve an issue in whatever way a judge decides by going to court. Hiring a lawyer to represent you in a car accident case will give your case the best chance at a successful outcome
Why do insurance companies want to settle car accident claims?
Insurance companies tend to make quick settlement offers to save time and money. The settlement award included in these offers often fails to cover the entire cost of your losses. Before accepting a quick settlement offer, you should talk to a lawyer who can offer sound advice and explain why you must reach a certain state of physical and medical improvement before accepting any offer. When you accept a quick settlement offer, you sign away your right to sue for the full value of your claim.
Going to court is typically not in the best interest of insurance companies because it ends up costing them, and they hate the unpredictability of the process. Insurance companies are in the business of calculating risks, and because juries are difficult to calculate, they try to avoid them at all costs. Valuing your claim on your own is nearly impossible because of this, and it is essential to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car crash.
Insurance companies want to scare car accident victims away from going to court, as well. An adjuster might tell you that there is a good chance you will lose at trial, so your best bet is to accept whatever they are offering. This offer is usually far lower than you deserve, and you should never accept anything without having a car accident attorney evaluate your case.
Don’t let the insurance companies take advantage of your vulnerable position and bully you into accepting an unfair settlement award. Put your trust in a team of auto accident lawyers who are ready to advocate on your behalf. The right lawyer will negotiate as high an offer as possible, and if it is not adequate, they should not hesitate to file an injury lawsuit and begin the litigation process.
Filing a lawsuit does not mean you will go to court
Most people associate “going to court” with filing a lawsuit. However, much has to happen between filing your claim with the court and heading into trial. Most cases resolve at some point in between.
Filing your injury lawsuit begins the litigation process, and there are many stages of this process that progress according to the Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendant will have the opportunity to file motions to dismiss your claim, which the judge will need to rule on.
Next, the discovery process starts. During this stage, both sides exchange information and evidence they intend to use to support or defend the claim. They can do this through depositions, interrogatories, requests to produce physical evidence, and requests for admissions.
Often, once all the evidence is out there, both sides can see the strengths and weaknesses of the case. The defense might determine that you have such strong evidence that you will likely win at trial. In this situation, the defendant’s insurance company will want to avoid going to court, so it will likely make a favorable settlement offer.
If the settlement offer is still too low, your car accident attorney can engage in another round of settlement negotiations. Using the evidence you exchanged, they can argue that you deserve enough to cover all your stated losses. If you have strong evidence, the insurance company will often agree to a fair amount.
Settlement negotiations can take time, but they can avoid the need for a time-consuming and stressful trial. You want a car accident attorney who is a skilled negotiator to improve your chances of settling pre-trial.
What should I expect in a trial for a car accident case?
If your case does not settle during pretrial litigation, you may need to go to trial. Your lawyer will have time to prepare for trial before you head into court.
Either a judge or jury will decide car accident cases that go to trial. Your lawyer will begin by presenting all pertinent evidence in your case. They may call any police officers who responded to the accident, expert witnesses, and eyewitnesses to testify during the trial. These witnesses will testify to support your claims that the other driver caused the accident, and all testimony must comply with the Rules of Evidence.
When your case goes to trial, you typically also have to get on the stand and describe how the accident happened. You might need to testify at trial regarding the nature and extent of your injuries and how they affect your life, including your work and home life. Taking the stand can be stressful, but you will have plenty of time to prepare with your attorney.
The defendant’s attorney will do everything possible to discredit your claims, which is why having a knowledgeable car accident lawyer by your side is so important. Your lawyer will work with you before a trial to prepare you to answer any difficult questions from the opposing side. Not only will your testimony help establish fault, but it will also show the full extent of damages you suffered due to the defendant’s negligent actions.
The defendant might also call witnesses to the stand to defend against liability. They might hire expert witnesses to challenge the extent of your injuries and losses. Testimony that discredits your claim can produce stress, but this is part of the process. If you have a strong case, the defense testimony should not sway the judge or jury’s minds.
The judge or jury decides the case once they hear all testimony and closing statements from both sides. Remember that the judge or jury may not rule in your favor; you may appeal the decision if this happens.
To win your case, the jury or judge must determine that it is more likely or not that:
- The driver was liable for your accident
- The accident caused your injuries
- You have losses from your injuries
This burden of proof is called a preponderance of the evidence, and it is the lowest burden of proof in our legal system. This makes it possible to win a car accident trial even if the driver did not receive a criminal conviction for their conduct. An experienced lawyer will know how to meet the burden of proof whenever possible.
How long does a car accident trial last?
The time it takes to resolve a car accident case will depend on the seriousness of your injuries, the complexity of the accident, and how many parties were involved. In some cases, a trial for a car accident case may take just a few days – however, the process of heading to court can take up to a year or more.
Before going to trial, the defendant is served with a complaint and given time to respond. Both sides exchange evidence and interview witnesses during the discovery phase, which typically takes a few months to complete. If your case is successful and the defendant decides to file an appeal, this will further delay the outcome of your trial. If you wish to receive compensation in a matter of months, hiring an auto accident attorney to conduct successful negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company is your best option.
How do insurance companies decide to offer a settlement?
Insurance policies almost always come into play when you’re injured, especially when the accident was someone else’s fault. When handling a claim, the insurance company attempts to minimize costs and risks, and it will do everything it can to resolve the claim before it goes to trial. What this often means is reaching a settlement agreement with the victim. The best way to recover a fair settlement award is by hiring an experienced auto accident attorney to represent your case.
I suffered injuries in a car accident. Should I file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver?
Our lawyers may suggest that you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for costs related to your injuries if you suffered them because of:
- Another driver’s deliberate or negligent actions
- Defective equipment
- Road hazard
You may claim both economic and non-economic damages in an auto accident lawsuit. Some examples of economic damages include medical expenses and vehicle repair or replacement costs. Non-economic injuries are not as simple to calculate and can include intangible things such as emotional pain, suffering, or mental stress.
How should I handle my medical bills after a car accident?
When it comes to car accident claims, several factors determine how to cover the cost of your healthcare-related expenses. Determining who will cover the cost of your medical expenses typically relies on the question of legal fault. Once your lawyer determines liability, the responsible party will have to pay for damages and injuries incurred by the victim. After suffering injuries in a car crash, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Get a complete medical examination to not only support your case but benefit your health. If another negligent party was responsible for your injuries, you have a right to seek compensation from them. However, until your case settles, your health insurance or medical payments coverage through your auto insurance policy can help you cover the costs of your treatments in the meantime.
Let a Car Accident Lawyer Guide Your Case
While no one wants to go to court, some car accident victims must do so to obtain the full compensation they deserve. You should keep an open mind and listen to the guidance of your car accident attorney regarding the best path for your claim. If they suggest you file a lawsuit, you should not hesitate. They will handle every step of the process, so you can remain focused on your treatment, even as your case winds its way through the civil court system.
While most cases settle before trial, some make it into the courtroom. Your lawyer can prepare you for what to expect and how to handle yourself in court. They will be there every step of the way, so you do not have to feel intimidated by the prospect of going to court. Put your rights and future in the hands of a trusted legal professional.
When you call a car accident law firm, they should consult with you and evaluate your case at no cost. This is also your opportunity to ask the lawyer about their experience handling car accident claims.
You might ask:
- How many of your cases settle out of court?
- How many lawsuits have you filed?
- How much trial experience do you have?
- Do you think my case will go to trial?
The answers you hear can give you a better idea of what to expect in your case, as well as whether that lawyer is the right one to represent you.
Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602