When You End Up Going To Court
When you file a personal injury claim, there is always a risk of going to court. The only way to eliminate this risk is to accept whatever the insurance company offers. However, this could come back to haunt you in the future.
For example, the company could cover your medical expenses to date. However, will it provide financial compensation for your disabilities and the economic and emotional effects these may have on your life?
Consequently, keeping an open mind about potentially going to court is crucial. Here are some factors that make it more likely:
- The other driver denies responsibility for the accident.
- The responsible driver fled the scene and police officers later caught him or her.
- The other driver is uninsured or underinsured.
- The insurance company claims you are at fault.
- There is a dispute over how much money you should receive.
- The insurance company refuses to pay your claim or attempts to low-ball you.
When You Might Not Go To Court
The more compelling the evidence, the less likely it is that insurance companies want to go to court. In fact, very few cases end up in courtrooms, compared to the number of claims filed. Litigation is expensive, especially when insurance companies hire entire teams to get them out of paying you.
When insurance companies want to avoid court, they offer a settlement. However, insurance companies do not always offer these in good faith. Sometimes, insurance companies hope you’re desperate enough to accept a lower amount than you need. You might also avoid going to court in the following instances:
- The insurance company represents a corporation and the company wants to keep details confidential, such as when manufacturer negligence led to the crash.
- The insurance company believes it would lose in court because of your attorney’s compelling evidence during negotiations.
- You hire an experienced attorney with a strong reputation and the insurance company prefers not to go up against them in court.
- The case goes to court, but the judge determines you do not need to take the stand.
- Your injuries are so catastrophic that the judge allows you to testify from your hospital bed or decides to proceed without personal testimony.
The Settlement Process
When attorneys take on personal injury cases, they usually pursue a settlement first. There is no universal process that applies to all car accident cases, but there are some general steps most attorneys follow:
- Your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This letter contains an overview of your case and an explanation of what you believe the company owes you.
- Once the insurance company receives the demand letter, it conducts its own investigation into the accident. The company may reach out to you for a recorded statement or request access to your medical records.
- After completing its investigation, the insurance company responds to your attorney with a settlement offer. In some cases, the insurance company might decline to offer anything or some might stall.
- If you and your attorney are not happy with the offer, he or she may negotiate back and forth with the insurance company until you reach an agreement or decide to take your case to court.
- If you accept the insurance company’s offer, you sign a release stating you will not take any further legal action against the company related to the accident.
- Generally, once you sign the release, the company sends you a check for the settlement amount.
- Your attorney retains a certain percentage as payment for their services. State laws set restrictions on how much attorneys can retain.
The Court Process
The process differs if you and your attorney decide to go to court. Your attorney still needs to investigate the accident and gather evidence, but he or she also needs to file a complaint with the court. This starts the litigation process, which can take months or even years to resolve.
If you go to court, you likely have to testify about the accident and your injuries. The at-fault driver also takes the stand, as well as any witnesses. It’s essential to have an experienced attorney by your side who can help you prepare for court and cross-examine the other driver.
How To Prepare for Court
If negotiations fail and you have to go to trial, your attorney takes steps to prepare you for testifying. This can feel nerve-racking because you have a lot at stake. Your actions outside of the courtroom and proceedings can also affect the outcome. This holds true even if you never get called to the stand.
Hire an Experienced Professional
The first step is to consult with an attorney with experience in car accident cases. He or she can help you understand the process and what to expect. An experienced attorney can also help you set realistic expectations for how court proceedings unfold.
Be Honest With Your Lawyer
Maintaining honesty with your attorney about the accident and your injuries is also important. Your attorney cannot help you if he or she does not know the whole story. Be prepared to answer questions about the accident, your injuries and your medical history wholly and honestly.
Get Comfortable Answering Questions
Your attorney may also involve a trial consultant. This person prepares you for testifying by asking questions about the accident and your injuries. The goal is to get you comfortable talking about the accident so you do not get nervous when testifying in front of a judge and jury.
Guard Conversations About the Case
Your attorney will likely advise you to be mindful of what you post online about the accident or the case. Most might tell you not to share anything at all. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so you must exercise caution online and in person ― even when speaking with family and friends.
Work on Appearance
Sadly, we live in a world where people draw immediate conclusions about others based purely on their appearance. As a result, your attorney might offer advice on how to present yourself to avoid some of the biases people might hold. This could range from getting a haircut to trimming your beard, covering up tattoos or wearing a suit.
Why Choose Judd Shaw Injury Law
Our attorneys demand justice for our clients. We understand how terrifying car accidents are and how challenging the aftermath can be to resolve. Putting our clients first in every way has played a central role in our ability to recover more than $240 million for our clients. We are proud to have transformed horrific stories into remarkable stories of triumph.
Our team will also do everything possible to keep the proceedings outside the court. We work with you to determine your most feasible options as the case unfolds, so you can decide what actions today might best serve your needs tomorrow. Contact us to get started.