The length of a trial is usually not very long if you're wondering, "Do I have to go to court after a car accident?" What makes trials so lengthy is everything that goes on beforehand. As stated previously, most car accident disputes will be resolved through a negotiated settlement that may take a few months at most. However, when negotiations come to a stalemate or there is a dispute over which party is liable, a trial may be the only way to get the matter settled. For these reasons, it's imperative to work with a lawyer who is prepared to go this route if fair compensation cannot be negotiated.
Not all lawyers are willing to take the time, and not all lawyers are battle-hardened enough to fight for you in a courtroom. Some attorneys would rather sit in their office on the phone and may advise you to accept less than what your claim is worth to avoid the courtroom. That's never the case at Morgan and Morgan. Our lawyers are vetted not only for their capabilities but also for their commitment to justice. If it takes a courtroom battle, that's what will happen.
When you're ready to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will file a formal complaint with the courts and serve a copy to the other party and their insurance company. Once served, the other party is compelled to answer the complaint within a specified amount of time that varies depending on where you live.
The next step is the discovery stage which is why most lawsuits take so long. During this phase, each side will exchange information that may be used during the trial, including taking depositions (formal interviews under oath) from any witnesses and expert witnesses. An expert witness in a car accident trial may be used to explain evidence or provide a technical viewpoint on subjects that regular members of the jury wouldn't usually have knowledge of in their lives. For example, an accident reconstructionist would be able to walk a jury through the mechanics of the accident from an engineering and physics perspective.
Once the discovery phase is wrapped up, the actual trial is usually relatively quick. It might take a few days, and then it's left up to the judge or jury to decide on a verdict and award damages. This is a significantly simplified explanation of the trial timeline. Some people abuse the system in an effort to stall paying compensation. Stalling is a common tactic to avoid justice. By dragging it out, the opposing side is hoping you'll give up or accept less than you deserve.
Still, the other party may decide to go the settlement route at any point during a lawsuit. This is especially true if they see they are losing. However, it's always up to you whether you accept the settlement.
Once a verdict is delivered, it's not always over. Either side in a lawsuit has a right to appeal a lower court's decision to a higher court. There are many possibilities that may prolong a lawsuit, and it's not unheard of for a case to last a year or longer. It's your decision whether you have the patience to wait it out or choose to settle beforehand.
It's understandable to want to get on with your life, but you should never drop the claim or settle for less just because medical bills are piling up. Your Morgan and Morgan lawyer can even negotiate with hospitals and doctors on your behalf to accept payment once the case is resolved, so that's one less worry on your shoulders.