Many personal injury claims are resolved quickly, within weeks or months of filing them, without a need to go to court. But if a claim cannot be resolved this way it will proceed to trial. In Georgia, injury claims go to trial by jury. This is not the case in all 50 states.
Understanding Civil Court Trials
Injury claims, including car accident claims and wrongful death cases, are civil cases, meaning they do not go to the same court as a criminal case. Criminal trials and civil trials have many similarities, but there are also many differences:
- Civil cases are about recovering losses. In a criminal case, the point is to find someone “guilty” and punish them. Civil cases don’t do that. Most civil cases are simply about helping an accident victim recover the money they need to pay for losses such as medical bills or property damage.
- Civil cases are easier to prove. We’ve all heard that court cases have to be proven “beyond the shadow of a doubt.” But this only applies in criminal law. In civil law, you only have to prove your case by the weight of the evidence. In other words, if the evidence makes it likely that the other party could have prevented your injury, you are likely to win.
- Many civil cases are settled out of court. At any time, the other party in your lawsuit may decide they’ve had enough. They might realize they’re going to lose in court, or they may simply decide not to take the risk. At this point they may make you an offer. If you accept the offer it is known as a “settlement” and there is no need to continue with the trial.
When is a trial a good thing?
Most personal injury lawyers will work to help you avoid a trial if possible. If you build a strong case, you can often push the insurance company to settle without going to court. This can save you time and money. But a trial is a good thing in two cases:
- If the insurance company won’t budge, trial is the best and only way to pursue your claim.
- If the insurance company’s offer is too low, your lawyer may believe you’ll win more from a jury. If this is the case, they will advise you to go to trial.
Whether your case is good for trial depends on how strong your evidence is, and also how sympathetic your lawyer believes a jury will be toward your case. A sympathetic jury can award you far more than you would otherwise get.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.