If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a car accident, your questions and concerns may include whether your case will end up in court, how often car accident claims go to court, and how a claim makes it to court in the first place.
To better understand car accident claims and how often they go to court, we’ll explain the legalities of collisions, the claims process, and the steps necessary to seek compensation. One of the most important steps in the process is hiring the right car accident lawyer to handle your case.
Few cases make it to trial, but a car accident attorney can guide your case in a direction that yields the most beneficial results. Therefore, immediately speak with a qualified lawyer for professional legal support after a collision.
Understanding Car Accidents
Car accidents happen every day in the United States at a rate of about 13 collisions each minute. When driving or near traffic, you’re at risk of an accident at any moment.
Before delving into the process of a car accident claim, there are many legal issues to consider, including what caused the collision and the injuries and damage that resulted. These specifics can have a substantial impact on the outcome of your claim.
Causes of Vehicle Collisions
Regardless of how carefully you drive, several factors beyond your control can contribute to an unfortunate accident.
One of the most significant issues that contribute to collisions is negligent driving behavior, which often includes:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Fatigued driving
- Failure to yield
- Unsafe lane changes and turns
- Failure to obey traffic signs and laws
While other drivers and their actions often lead to accidents, causes can also include defects in a vehicle, including brake failure, and dangerous road conditions.
Determining the cause of your collision is imperative, as this plays a vital role in your claim. The cause of your accident can also reveal critical information regarding who should be responsible for your crash and subsequent harm.
Common Types of Accidents
The cause of a collision can also dictate the resulting type of car accident. Some collisions are worse than others, depending on the point of impact and the speed at which the cars collide.
Some of the most common kinds of car crashes include:
- Rear-end collisions
- Front-end accidents
- Sideswipe collisions
- T-bone accidents
- Side impact collisions
Some collisions lead to chain-reaction crashes, which can substantially increase the number of injuries and damage to vehicles. The more vehicles involved in a crash, the more complicated a claim may be, as cause and fault may be more challenging to identify and allocate.
Injuries Often Resulting from Car Crashes
Not every accident results in injury, but many traffic accidents cause crash victims harm.
Some injuries victims might suffer include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
Not only do car accident victims have to deal with the struggle of a physical injury, but many also face ongoing health complications from these injuries. Long-term effects of an injury can include vision impairment from eye injuries, amputations due to crush injuries, cognitive impairments from brain injuries, and many more.
After suffering a severe and lasting injury, you'll likely need extensive medical care, and treatment can be costly. You might miss substantial work time, change jobs, or stop working altogether.
Obtaining fair monetary recovery can help you lessen the financial burden and receive the care you truly need. Compensation is why victims choose to pursue car accident injury claims, as financial support can help to improve their futures.
Starting with an Insurance Collision Claim
You’ll usually start by filing a collision claim with an auto insurance company. Whether it’s your insurance company or the other driver’s depends on your state’s laws. States operate under either fault or no-fault rules, which dictate where you begin the claim process.
When you're involved in an accident in a fault state, the party to blame for the crash is liable for your losses. If the other driver caused your accident, you will file an insurance claim for compensation with their insurance company. If there is another liable party, such as a driver’s employer or rideshare company, your attorney will also file those insurance claims.
On the other hand, if your accident occurs in a no-fault state, initially, blame for the accident does not matter. Instead, you will file an insurance claim under your own no-fault insurance. If your injuries are serious and your losses exceed your no-fault coverage limits, you might qualify to then file an at-fault claim against the negligent driver.
You want a skilled car accident attorney to handle the claim process whether you file a no-fault claim, at-fault claim, or both.
Depending on how it goes with your auto insurance claim, this may be all you need to receive the compensation you deserve. If a settlement offer is fair, you can accept it and be on your way. However, if an insurance claim does not yield the best results, you may need to take additional steps to obtain a fair resolution.
Demanding Settlement from the Insurance Company
Your car accident lawyer can use a demand letter to help persuade the insurance company to settle for a fair amount with you.
When your attorney drafts a demand letter, they create a letter with essential details regarding your accident, including how it happened and how the company insured was at fault. They'll also include specifics concerning your injuries and losses and explain the value of your damages.
The point of a demand letter is to ask the insurance company to settle and remit payment for your injuries and losses. Should the insurance company agree, you'll resolve your case, and there will be no need for further action.
Still, dealing with insurance companies is never easy; car accident attorneys know it. This is why your lawyer demands that the insurer resolve the case, or you'll have no choice but to take legal action.
If the insurance company doesn't agree to the value in demand, an adjuster may begin settlement negotiations with your lawyer. Alternatively, they may deny the claim and demand altogether.
If the demand letter does not yield favorable results, your lawyer can prepare to take action and proceed with filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A lawsuit to recover losses in a car accident falls under personal injury law. This area of law helps protect victims who have suffered harm due to another party. Car accidents are some of the most common kinds of personal injury cases.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit involves drafting and filing a petition with the local court, along with any supporting documents. Your petition will include information regarding your accident, the losses you sustained, and the recovery you seek.
Once you file your legal claim, the other party must receive notification of the impending lawsuit and file their own timely response with the court. The real work begins after you've filed your claim and the other party has responded.
Going Through the Lawsuit Process
The most time-consuming part of a lawsuit is called discovery. In the discovery phase of a legal claim, both parties to the lawsuit and their attorneys can seek and request pertinent evidence to help substantiate their claims.
Your lawyer can use certain legal tools during discovery, including depositions, requests for production, and interrogatories. With the information and documentation they acquire, attorneys better grasp the case and use the evidence to strengthen their arguments.
Discovery can last a long time in particularly complex cases, such as those involving commercial trucks or buses. Trading information in a standard car crash case might not take as long, but you still might have to sit for a deposition, and your lawyer must follow the court rules and timelines.
Engaging in Settlement Negotiations
Once both parties have the information they need, they can better engage in settlement negotiations.
Usually, car accident attorneys will engage in extensive pre-trial settlement negotiations, which take place before a case goes to court. After discovery, your attorney can craft arguments for a fair settlement based on the evidence each side reviewed. If successful, the case can conclude without going to trial.
Settlement negotiations at this stage can go either way. Your attorney can make the strongest arguments for a fair settlement, but it depends on the other side's willingness to resolve the case and pay what you deserve.
Going to Trial – When Does a Car Accident Claim Make it to the Courtroom?
While your lawyer may try their hardest to resolve your case before it goes to trial, sometimes, it’s impossible.
While car accident attorneys work to resolve your case efficiently, they always strive to do this without sacrificing a fair outcome. If your lawyer feels that resolving your case will mean settling for much less than your case is worth, it's highly unlikely they will advise you to settle.
Lawyers want to fight for the fairest possible outcome; sometimes, going to trial may be the best way to get there.
Alternatively, there are many reasons why cases never see the inside of a courtroom, and insurance companies settle before going to trial. In most cases, insurers realize how much time, money, and energy goes into a trial. Additionally, depending on the case, they may feel going to trial will cost more than just settling a case outside of court.
Because insurance companies are often so reluctant to go to trial, after a bit of push and shove, they likely settle. You can trust your car accident attorney to do what is best for your case and put up an aggressive fight to settle your claim and avoid trial.
How Often Do Car Accident Claims Actually Go to Court?
Many are usually surprised to learn how few cases actually ever go to court. In reality, about 95 percent of cases settle pre-trial, meaning only roughly five out of every 100 cases go to court.
There are no guarantees regarding your case and whether or not it will need to go to trial. Every case is unique, and car accident lawyers treat them as such. However, this statistic can give you some hope regarding your case, as there is a high likelihood you won't ever need to step foot in a courtroom to receive the financial compensation you need and deserve.
Your Choice of Attorney Affects Your Car Accident Claim
Regardless of the details of your collision and the challenges you face during your accident claim, you should trust your car accident lawyer to be on your side every step of the way.
The right attorney can help you understand your rights as a car accident victim and give you peace of mind throughout the claim process. They can create a strong legal strategy to resolve your case quickly and efficiently and reach the most beneficial result.
Your car accident lawyer can strive to maneuver your case in a way that helps to avoid trial altogether. You have the best chance of avoiding trials and getting the desired outcome with skilled, high-quality representation.
You Have Limited Time to Take Legal Action and Consult a Car Accident Lawyer
Statutes of limitations restrict how long you have to take legal action for compensation. These time limits vary based on your state's laws but can expire quickly. If your time to file your claim runs out, your case will not go to court.
After a car accident, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. The sooner you acquire legal representation, the sooner your lawyer can begin working on their strategy for your case.