Do I Have to Go to Court After a Car Accident?

Do I Have to Go to Court After a Car Accident?

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Do I Have to Go to Court After a Car Accident?

Getting into a car accident is never expected. At best, it's very inconvenient, but for some, a car accident can result in serious physical injuries. The aftermath can leave victims feeling anxious, frustrated, and unsure of what comes next. If you've recently been in a crash, you may wonder, "Do I have to go to court after a car accident?"

The answer is usually going to be no. Most car accident claims are settled out of court through negotiations with the insurance providers of those involved. However, the likelihood of going to court is increased when there is a dispute concerning the fault for the accident or if there were catastrophic injuries.

Whether you need legal representation in the courtroom or during negotiations with an insurance company, Morgan and Morgan can provide you with the expertise you need to succeed. You should be able to focus on your recovery rather than struggling with the legal ramifications and hassle of a car accident that wasn't your fault.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident?

    Having a lawyer represent you in a car accident claim is never mandatory. Still, when you have a knowledgeable lawyer with plenty of resources at their disposal on your side, your chances of winning compensation are far more likely. People who use a lawyer have better odds of securing a financial award; often, the amount will be much more than without legal representation.

    Obviously, winning compensation is the point of a car accident claim or lawsuit, and that's always the primary goal of a personal injury attorney. However, a lawyer can also relieve the burden of going through a very complicated process on your own. Typically, a car accident lawyer will deal with the following:

    • Advise you of your rights and work to protect them
    • Handle all communications with the insurance company and the courts
    • Locate and interview witnesses
    • Locate photos or video of the car accident
    • Obtain a police report
    • Document vehicle damage
    • Document adverse roadway conditions
    • Obtain medical records and talk to your physician about your injuries
    • Compile financial losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs
    • Assess noneconomic damages like pain and suffering to calculate total damages
    • Negotiate on your behalf for meaningful compensation
    • Develop a winning legal strategy
    • File legal documents
    • Represent you in court if needed

    When you or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident, it can be a scary and stressful experience. You have enough to worry about just healing from the injuries, and the added stress of dealing with the business side of things may even hinder your recovery. At Morgan and Morgan, our lawyers investigate, analyze, negotiate, and will escalate your claim to trial if that's what is necessary to obtain fair compensation.

  • How Long Does a Car Accident Trial Last?

    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.

  • How Many Car Accident Claims Go to Court?

    While it's not possible to state precisely how long a claim will take to settle, even when a claim escalates to a lawsuit, it's still likely to end in a settlement after the discovery phase. This is after the other side has been able to review the evidence and testimony before them, and they have a better sense of how strong or weak their defense is.

    For example, suppose we uncover video evidence of the accident from a different angle during our investigation. The content of this video clears up any confusion as to who was at fault for the accident. The evidence will be disclosed to the defendant during discovery which will erase any doubt as to who is at fault and, thus, liable to pay for the accident. In light of this information, the other party will be far more likely to settle than risk going to trial and losing.

  • What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?

    Suppose you're on the losing side of a car accident lawsuit. In that case, you may be responsible for paying the other party's damages and other expenses like court fees. You do have the right to appeal a decision. However, winning on appeal is statistically unlikely. An appeal is the legal means to ask a higher court to review the conclusion of a judge or jury in a lower court.

    An appeals court is only looking for two things. The first is whether a legal mistake was made during the trial. If the higher court sees a legal error was made, the second step is to review to see if this mistake changed the outcome of the case. An appeal is not a new trial or a chance to present new evidence or witness testimony. The lower court's opinion will be reversed if you win your appeal based on a mistake that negatively influenced the outcome of the original legal proceeding.

    Should you lose a car accident lawsuit and don't have grounds for an appeal, you will not be responsible for your lawyer's fees because we work on a contingency fee basis. This means we only get paid when we're successful. With that said, it's important to understand that we only take on cases that we feel confident we can win. That's not to say we don't put in the hard work to make sure of it. Still, your case has to have merit. Otherwise, you will not be successful, no matter who represents you. This is how the majority of personal injury law firms work.

  • What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?

    Car accident settlements are based on the damages. When determining the amount to ask for, we start with economic losses from missed work, hospital bills, and other things that can be tallied with receipts. The hard part is determining the value of noneconomic losses.

    Noneconomic damages don't come with a receipt because they are unquantifiable. Determining how much your pain and suffering are worth requires an experienced attorney. Noneconomic damages are usually calculated by multiplying economic damages on a scale of 1.5x up to 5 or higher, depending on the severity of your injuries. However, this explanation is oversimplified. Discussing this with one of our car accident attorneys is in your best interests, as every case is unique.

  • Contact Morgan and Morgan for Help With Your Car Accident Claim

    When you're struggling to recover from serious injuries, it's normal to ask, "Do I have to go to court after a car accident?" We understand it's the last thing you want to do, but if your settlement has stalled or there is a dispute over fault, it might be what's necessary. You need a strong personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and interests.

    Contact us day or night for a free case evaluation. We offer customized services because we know every case is important and unique. You'll have peace of mind knowing you have an expert on your side backed by one of the country's largest and most successful law firms.

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