There’s no good time to get into a car accident, and it can be stressful realizing you now have to gather evidence, keep track of your damages, and work to file a claim for compensation. Along the way, you’ll more than likely find yourself asking, “Do I have to go to court for the car accident?”
Most car accident victims worry about everything they’ll need to do in order to get compensation for medical bills and other expensive costs from their accident. The thought of going to court is scary and overwhelming for many. The good news is that most car accident injury claims are settled far before they need to go to trial—but not all.
Reasons You Might Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident
If you are filing a car accident lawsuit against the other driver in your car accident, you will probably end up going to court. There are a couple of reasons why this might happen.
1. The Insurance Company Wouldn’t Settle
By the time you are at the lawsuit stage, you and your lawyer have typically tried to get the driver’s insurance company to agree to a fair settlement—and they haven’t budged.
In most car accident claims, the insurance company will try to offer a lowball settlement for your damages. This is almost never even close to the full extent of your costs, so your lawyer will help you negotiate for a fairer settlement. They may also try to blame you for some of the accident or look for other factors to blame so the other driver’s liability is reduced.
Many times, both parties are able to reach an agreement and the case is settled. But if that doesn’t happen, you may choose to file a lawsuit in an attempt to get the compensation you need.
2. The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance
You might also take the at-fault driver to court if they are uninsured or underinsured. Without sufficient insurance, there is no way to file a personal injury claim for your damages. This means the driver—if they were fully at fault for the accident—is wholly responsible for the costs.
The problem with going to court for a car accident with an uninsured driver is that they rarely have much money or assets to draw on. This is often one of the reasons they have risked driving around without paying for insurance coverage. So, your options may be limited in how you get compensation—but this might be a reason you end up going to court.
If you do consider going to court to fight for compensation, hiring a car accident lawyer can give you a good idea of what to expect. They can look at the details and help you decide whether or not filing a lawsuit is the best decision for you.
Being Summoned for Another Court Case
Another reason you might be called to court after a car accident (separate from your personal injury claims) is if the other driver received a ticket and chooses to fight it in court. In this case, you were a witness to the traffic violation and may be summoned to appear as a witness. Although you do have to appear if you’re summoned, you should speak with your car accident lawyer if you’ve filed a lawsuit for the same car accident.
There Are Several Steps Before You Actually Go to Court
Insurance companies do not like going to court for personal injury cases. If you take them to trial and win the case, they will have to award you the settlement amount you requested.
So, if they feel like you have a strong case against them and a good chance of winning (or they see you are working with a well-known car accident lawyer), the insurance company will likely do everything they can to avoid court. Sometimes, simply being willing to go to court and preparing a claim for trial may scare the insurer into making you a more serious offer and settling.
Before the actual trial, there is a full timeline for a personal injury lawsuit. It includes the discovery and pre-trial periods as well as other opportunities for both sides to negotiate. The chances are good that you may receive out-of-court settlement offers. If they are good enough, you may choose to accept them and not have to go to court. However, you should definitely have an experienced car accident lawyer review any offer before accepting it.
How to Avoid Going to Court for a Car Accident
You can improve your chances of settling before the need to go to court by:
- Reporting the accident to the police (this is required by law if there are injuries or more than $500 in property damage)
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and your vehicle damages soon after the collision
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible for your injuries
- Keeping track of all damages, including medical bills, vehicle repairs, and more
- Consulting with a car accident lawyer as soon as you can
- Not apologizing, admitting blame, or giving the other driver’s insurance company any statements until you’ve spoken to a lawyer
The stronger case you can build, the better chance you have of getting a fair settlement from the insurance company. Having an experienced lawyer also helps so much because it shows the insurer you have a professional on your side and you are serious about fighting for your legal rights.
Going to Court for a Car Accident Is Your Choice
Although a car accident lawyer can advise you on what they think you should do, going to court for a car accident is ultimately your decision. Lawsuits can be lengthy, costly, and very stressful. You’ll need to be completely sure if you proceed to trial. Thankfully, most cases end far before you need to make this decision.
Get a Free Consultation with a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
Whether your case can be resolved through a settlement or ends up going to trial, our car accident lawyers at John Foy & Associates are not afraid to handle your case every step of the way. We have been doing so for over 20 years, and working with us is risk-free because you don’t pay unless we win you money.
To schedule a FREE consultation and case evaluation with the best lawyer for you, call us today at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.