Filing a lawsuit is sometimes the only way to recover the financial damages that you rightfully deserve after a car accident. Errors on the part of a human driver is the cause of at least 94% of car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Security Council estimates that Americans paid out $413 billion in claims in 2019.
That is a hefty price tag for someone else’s negligence.
Never lose sight of the fact that the other driver’s insurance company is going to try to offer you as low a settlement as possible. There may be disagreements about who was the at-fault driver or how much the settlement should be and this could cause payout reductions and delays.
Any delay should be promptly brought to the attention of a qualified lawyer who can help you state your case in car accident court. Your lawyer will perform a case review and tell you the approximate amount of damages you can expect to receive. This may include payouts for lost income from work absences, doctor’s bills, as well as pain and suffering.
Stages of the Court Process
Prepare ahead of the meeting with your lawyer so you get accurate and timely advice. Together, you’ll make a decision to either settle out of court or pursue your case. Depending on the behavior of the insurance company and how much money is deemed to be recoverable, the attorney will make a recommendation based on his or her experience with similar cases.
Once you decide to move forward, it is not uncommon for the organizational process to take weeks or even months. During this time, you’ll gather all the evidence and information necessary to actually have your day in court.
The car accident lawyer will file a list of claims and your justification for making those claims. Once the filing is complete, the insurer will be given a certain time frame to return their answer. This may take 30 days or even longer. Plus the at-fault driver’s insurer may file a pretrial motion to delay the process, which your lawyer will likely challenge.
Motions may also be filed by the insurance company in an attempt to delay or invalidate your claim. They could ask for a change of judge or venue, removal of your case from state to federal court or even request a complete dismissal of your claim based on a technicality.
So again, time is of the essence to get the legal process underway because sometimes those technicalities have to do with how long it took you to file the claim.
Court Dates and Mediation
After all the details are worked out in the pretrial process, it may take as much as one year to actually get to court. The judge may also assign an impartial mediator and request that you negotiate with the other side and reach an agreement without ever taking the case to trial.
You may also be asked to share evidence and witnesses with the other side under a process called discovery. The at-fault driver’s lawyers may also interview you under oath.
It may seem like a long, complicated process but to receive fair and proper compensation, you may decide to go to trial. A settlement may be offered at any time during the pretrial or trial but remember that you are under no obligation to accept any settlement unless you are 100% comfortable with it. A qualified lawyer will help you understand all of your options.