Do I Have to Go to Court in a Personal Injury Case?

  •  

    The idea of having to go to court can be daunting to many people. And litigation is costly and can drag out indefinitely. If you’ve been injured by another party and are facing the stresses of injury, pain, and hefty medical bills, you probably don’t want to deal with the time commitment and uncertainty of a lawsuit as well.

      

    Here’s a bit of good news: The majority of people seeking personal injury compensation never have to set foot inside a courtroom. A trial is a last resort, a step taken only if the insurance company and plaintiff are unable to hammer out a deal.

      

    If you’ve been hurt and someone else is at fault, it’s essential that you find an experienced personal injury lawyer knowledgeable about the laws in your state. A good attorney will be a skilled negotiator who is willing and able to fight for you in the courtroom if necessary.

      

    What Is a Personal Injury?

     

    Personal injury is a legal term referring to injury or damages resulting from the negligence of a person, business, or other party. Car crashes are, by far, the most common type of personal injury cases. Others include:

      

      

    As the plaintiff, you have to prove that the defendant had a certain “duty of care” to keep you safe or prevent harm, that they failed in that duty, and you suffered damages as a result.

      

    An Out-of-Court Settlement Is Better for Everyone

     

    If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury claim, you generally sue the person or entity that hurt you — for example, in a car accident, the at-fault driver. But in most cases, the defendant won’t have to pay a dime. Their insurance company will. And insurers want these claims resolved as quickly as possible, for as little money as possible. So they will likely give you a lowball offer.

      

    It’s in your best interest to not accept anything without consulting a lawyer, who will be able to calculate the full scope of your past, present, and future losses related to the accident. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company, and the two sides will hopefully come to a fair agreement.

      

    Insurance companies want to avoid a trial because of the uncertainty of the outcome — they could end up on the hook for a massive payout. Plus going to court means their lawyers will have to work substantially more hours, increasing their legal fees.

      

    Plaintiffs in a personal injury case may be facing mounting medical bills, repair costs, and other expenses. A trial can take months or years to conclude, and they won’t be able to collect a penny until it does. At the end of it all, there’s the possibility the judge or jury will find in favor of the insurance company.

      

    Sometimes, though, the two sides can’t find common ground and the plaintiff and their lawyer feel they have no choice but to file a lawsuit.

     

    • The plaintiff’s lawyer will file the initial court documents.
    • During a process called discovery, the sides trade information, take depositions, and consult experts.
    • There will be pretrial motions and hearings. The defendant may try to get the case dismissed by the judge.
    • At any point, a settlement may be reached, eliminating the need for a trial.

     

    If you’ve been hurt and suffered damages due to someone else’s negligence, don’t just accept the first offer the insurance company dangles in front of you. A personal injury lawyer will be able to accurately calculate your losses and make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve.