Most car accident cases are settled with an insurance company or through informal settlement negotiations. That's because settlement often saves you more time and money than taking your claim to trial. However, there are still rare cases where going to court is necessary. Read on to find out when and how your car accident case can be settled at trial.
Before Filing a Lawsuit
It may be necessary to take a car accident case to court if there are ongoing disputes between the parties or if the insurance company fails to respond to your demand letter. But those situations are typically rare because most insurance companies and attorneys have a general idea of how much the case is worth. Through informal negotiations, both parties can then come to an agreement as to how to settle the case. In addition, going to court can lead to expensive attorney fees and court costs. Therefore, it's important to balance the pros and cons before taking a case to court.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
If you're filing a lawsuit against someone, you will need to hire an attorney to represent you. Although filing a case without an attorney is possible, doing so will likely put you at a big disadvantage. It's typically in your best interests to have an experienced attorney handle your case, so you can recover the maximum amount of damages you deserve. When you first meet with an attorney for a consultation, you'll need to tell him or her everything that happened related to the accident. Prepare to answer several questions that the attorney may ask you regarding the case.
Steps to File a Car Accident Case
In order to take the case to trial, there are several steps you'll need to follow. First, your attorney will need to file a formal legal complaint, which is a document that identifies all of the parties involved in the case, states the legal basis for the court's jurisdiction over the issue, contains your legal claims and relevant facts, and demands for judgment or relief.
Next, you'll need to serve the defendant (the other driver who caused the accident) using the process server or the method required by the law of your state. The defendant will have a certain amount of days to file an answer to your complaint.
After that, you'll proceed to the discovery phase, which is the process of requesting information from the opposing party. You can obtain information by interrogatories (written questions), deposition (questioning in person), or production of documents.
What Happens at Trial?
When you file a lawsuit against the other driver who caused the accident, the court will decide whether that driver should be held legally responsible for the damages you suffered. By going to trial, you will have to present your case to obtain a judgment in your favor. The other driver will have a chance to present his or her side of the story. A full court trial for a car accident case typically has the following phases:
Explore Your Legal Options Through Free Claim Evaluation
Before you file a lawsuit, you'll need to explore your legal options to decide what will save you the most money and time. It's highly advisable to contact a personal injury lawyer soon after your injury because the trial process is time consuming and there are time limits (also called statues of limitations) to filing a lawsuit. Contact an attorney in your area today to get a free case review.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.