Most accident lawsuits do not go to court because the insurance company settles with the attorney of the plaintiff. The majority of studies state 95 percent of accidents end with a financial agreement before reaching court, Nolo.com reports. In cases where the plaintiff and defendant do not reach an agreement, both sides will go to court to have their argument heard. Every court case is different and cannot be compared to another, with some cases lasting days and some years. When preparing for an accident court case, both the defendant and plaintiff need to discuss the court case with their car accident attorney.
1. What is my Role in Court?
The Law Offices of Steers & Associates share that having an understanding of the court and the roles of each person is important, even though your lawyer is there to help and represent you. A car accident attorney will explain the different roles that will be played by every person in court. The most important part of the court process is understanding the difference between the plaintiff and defendant. The victim of the car accident is the person who files the lawsuit and is known as the plaintiff. In contrast, the individual who has papers served to them and is being sued by the plaintiff is the defendant.
2. Who Will I Face?
The plaintiff will have their case presented to the court by the attorney of their choice. Plaintiffs become concerned about who they will face when they arrive in court because of the presence of an insurance company. A defendant who has their automobile covered by an insurance company may not appear in court. The insurance company will usually take over the handling of the claim when it moves to a courtroom setting to try and minimize any financial losses.
3. How Long Will It Last?
This question is a difficult one to answer for any attorney. The problem for a legal expert is that no outcome or timeline is ever the same. The American Bar Association explains a personal injury claim of any kind is a long process to undertake. The timeframe cannot be estimated because of the different steps that must take place. The two attorneys will exchange documents to start the process of filing a lawsuit. Each side of the case will gather as much evidence as possible, with an offer usually made by the insurance company. Every plaintiff has the right to reject the offer made to them and ask a judge to make a judgment.
4. Will I Give Evidence?
During preparations for a court case, the plaintiff and their legal counsel will discuss what happened in the accident. A plaintiff will make a statement explaining their version of the accident that will be submitted into evidence. If the case progresses to court, the plaintiff may have to give evidence under oath and face questions from the defendant’s legal team. If a car accident claim makes it to court, the chances are the plaintiff will have to give evidence in person.
5. What Experience Do You Have?
The question of the experience of an attorney is an important subject. For most cases, a personal injury attorney without trial experience will be able to obtain a financial settlement for their client. In cases where a financial agreement seems out of reach, the need for an experienced trial attorney becomes apparent. Each personal injury attorney has experience in different areas of the legal sector, including taking cases to court.
6. Will the Case End With a Trial?
The average car accident lawsuit goes to court and lasts between one and two days before a judgment is reached. The decision of the court can be the subject of an appeal, which an accident attorney will explain before the case begins. For both a plaintiff and defendant, the problems caused by an appeal are both financial and time-consuming. An initial appeal can add several years to a case and be followed by more. According to KF&B Law, many attorneys will work with mediators in their client’s best interest to settle a case before it can even go to trial. This will also lessen the amount of time before a decision is made.
7. How Much Will I Get If I win?
The question on the lips of every plaintiff is what they will receive if they win the case. An attorney in most states can’t answer this question because a court trial is unpredictable and is affected by several factors. The ethical aspects of the legal profession usually require an attorney to give only an estimate, with many choosing not to answer this type of question. The unpredictability of a court trial is why most attorneys recommend coming to a settlement with insurance companies.
Different Cases Have Different Outcomes
No two cases are ever alike when it comes to car accidents. Judgements are based on evidence and proof of liability. Also, in some instances lawsuits may only cover medical expenses. Sometimes they may rule in favor of the plaintiff and cover other costs as well, which can include damages, medical, living expenses, wages lost, attorney and court fees as well. It is essential that you discuss all possibilities of the outcome with your attorney. Not only should you ask the main questions listed here, but you should also ask worst case scenario questions as well. These are vital to further understanding your case.
When a car accident takes place, a court trial is usually far from the mind of both plaintiff and defendant. Spending the time to learn about what to expect in court and prepare properly for the case will pay off in the long-term. Of course, safe driving and following all rules and regulations will help ensure that you won’t have to face an accident case. Taking the time to discuss what to expect when the trial begins will make the client aware of how to act when facing tough questions. You don’t have to be alone during such a painful time. Have all your questions and concerns ready before an initial meeting with your attorney.