Understanding why car accident lawyers take cases to trial can help you determine if a trial is the best option for you.
The chances are high that you have seen a television show or movie featuring a courtroom drama. For many, a tv show or movie is the closest they have experienced to the real thing. However, you cannot understand the process of getting to trial until you have gone through it personally. Your car accident lawyer will explain everything you need to know about settling your case.
Car accident victims file thousands of court cases each year, hoping to find justice for their injuries caused by another’s negligence. Only a few cases ever go to trial. Recent estimates suggest that 95% of personal injury cases filed in court never go before a jury. However, plaintiffs win about nine out of every ten cases heard by a jury.
Settling a Car Accident Claim Before Court
After a car accident, you might wonder what happens next. An experienced car accident lawyer will work with you to gather the evidence you need to prove your case. Your auto accident attorney will collect your:
- Medical records,
- Employment records,
- Property damage estimates,
- Police reports,
- Witness statements,
- Video evidence,
- Estimates of lost financial advantage, and
- Estimates of costs of future medical care.
All this evidence, and possibly more, will be used to prepare for trial. Experienced car wreck lawyers know that the better you prepare a client’s case to win at trial, the greater the likelihood of settlement.
Your car accident attorney will file a claim on your behalf with the insurance company after gathering all the evidence.
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Insurance companies do not sit idle and wait for the accident victim to file a claim. Insurance companies employ investigators to talk with witnesses, gather evidence, and review all your evidence before the case goes to trial. The insurance company investigates the case to determine how much your case is worth from their perspective.
Insurance Companies are in It for the Money
Insurance companies are just like any other business. They exist to make money. Their product is insurance instead of making computers or building cars.
There is more pressure on the insurance industry now than ever before. Some insurance industry commentators observed that the cost of paying claims is rising at more than two times the rate of inflation.
What does that mean for you and your accident claim? It means that the profit margins for insurance companies could shrink. Insurance companies will likely implement cost-saving measures if that happens. Therefore, insurance rates will go up, and settlement awards will go down.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
According to a Fort Worth auto accident lawyer, the auto wreck lawyer you choose, will open negotiations with the insurance company immediately after demanding a formal settlement. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company and hopefully reach a just settlement.
Insurance companies must negotiate in good faith. However, an insurance company could deny or low-ball a claim for any number of reasons. Insurance adjusters might refuse to offer a just settlement if the company’s representatives think you exaggerated your claim or their client is not fully liable for the damages.
Advising a Client to Go to Trial
Depending on where the crash happened, the state might have a two- or three-year statute of limitations. Your car wreck attorney must file a case in court to preserve your rights before the statute of limitations runs. You should understand that negotiations can continue even if you file in court.
As the case progresses toward trial, additional evidence may come to light. You might also learn through the discovery process that memories faded or certain witnesses are no longer available. You must monitor these developments with your attorney closely.
Issues frequently arise before going to trial because of the passage of time. Getting to trial will take years. You might reach a point where you believe a settlement is in your best interest and accept the insurance company’s offer. The insurance company may feel the same way. They might increase settlement authority so they could avoid losing an enormous amount of money after trial.
Who Makes the Decision to Go to Trial?
The ultimate decision to accept an offer from the insurance company or go to trial is yours. You must have a frank discussion with your attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of going to trial. There is no set formula to determine when you should ask a jury to decide whether you should settle, because each case is different. Your risk tolerance, the strength of your case, and the strength of your opponent’s case are factors to consider.
Auto Accident Trial Lawyers
There is one key factor that you should consider when deciding whether you should accept a settlement offer or go to trial. You should know if the attorney you chose to represent you has a reputation for taking cases to trial or if they fold when the trial date approaches. Do your research, and take advantage of free consultations with reputable lawyers. Some lawyers avoid taking cases to court and may even hand your case off to another attorney if they are unable to settle. If you choose someone with courtroom experience, you can feel confident that they will be able to handle your case no matter what path it takes.