Most people aren’t aware that many of the car accidents that happen around the country end in a settlement. The truth of the matter is that most injury cases are solved through settlement usually even before trial. Also, a large percentage of insurance claims are done through settlement without necessarily filing a lawsuit. However, there are some advantages of going to court and letting the jury or judge decide your case. Because there are no similar injury cases, there are several factors at play that you should consider before deciding whether to go to court or settle.
Settling Without Filing a Lawsuit
Most people prefer settling their accident claims before filing a lawsuit because:
- They will be compensated much faster
- Avoid several court proceedings including depositions, hearings, and trial
- Avoid incurring high attorney expenses
- Avoid an unpredictable decision by the judge or jury
The main question that you should ask yourself is whether you are willing to risk losing during a trial and receive zero reimbursements. This means that you shouldn’t base your decision only by weighing between the settlement offer and the estimate of your car accident claim.
Initiate Settlement Negotiations With a Demand Letter
A standard way of settling an injury case is through a demand letter. Before drafting a demand letter, it is necessary to be prepared and gather enough evidence. In case you have received any medical treatment, you will have to request your physician to provide you with all the medical records. Some physicians often charge a fee before they release these records. If you also missed work, ensure that you request your employer for your employment records that indicate the time missed from work and the salary you were receiving before the accident.
After you have gathered all the necessary records, you can proceed to draft a detailed demand letter. It is important that you list correctly all the dates and write the letter in chronological order. Remember to describe how you were injured, what happened, whether there were any witnesses and anything else that you may find important. List the total amount of money that you spent when receiving treatment and enclose the medical records. After completing the demand letter, send it to the perpetrator, his or her attorney, and the insurance company. If you don’t have any legal experience, it’s advisable that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you through this process.
Going to Court
Your attorney will most likely advise you to try and settle your accident claim before you decide to go to trial. However, in some cases, settlement may be impossible or not advisable. This is for instance, when no response is made to your response letter or the settlement offered may have been unreasonable or too low. You may also decide to go to court if you feel like you have suffered injustice and going to court to get justice will give you peace of mind.
Steps Followed in Car Accident Court Cases
The first step that your attorney will take is to file your lawsuit in a court of law. This is done by first drafting a legal complaint. Your attorney will also serve the other driver or their attorney through a law enforcement officer or a process server with the complaint. The defendant will then have some time which is usually 20 days to answer to your complaint.
The next major step involves participating in the discovery process. During this process, the defendant has the permission to request information from you or your attorney, and your attorney can request information from them. The information can be acquired by interrogating and submitting questions to the defendant. Additionally, your attorney can request the defendant to produce documents. You can also acquire information through a deposition. By scheduling a deposition, you can request people to testify. This can be done at specific places and time, and their testimony is recorded to be used in court later.
The last step of your car accident lawsuit is going to trial. During the trial, a jury or judge will hear your case and weigh the evidence submitted before they decide your case. You should remember that the preparation process and representation of your case during the trial can be very expensive and time-consuming.
You Still Have a Chance to Settle
Before your verdict is made and throughout the court case, your attorney might advise you to settle in case a better offer is made. Filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean that you have given up your chances of settling.