After a car accident, most insurance companies and other parties involved want to settle the case quickly out of court because lawsuits are expensive. Yet, when parties cannot agree on the terms of a settlement, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit to reclaim losses.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the stages of a car accident lawsuit based on what is most likely to occur.
Meeting With an Attorney
It’s best to hire an attorney as soon as possible. Your personal injury attorney can help you avoid going to trial and filing a lawsuit by negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. If that’s not possible, your legal team will provide a realistic view of what your options are. Your attorney will discuss the potential benefit, costs, and outcomes prior to litigation.
Filing Your Case in Court
Once your attorney discusses the entire process with you, he or she will help you to draft key documents to file in the court of law. This will include the initial complaint filed to outline the plaintiff’s case against the other party, in this case, the other driver. Your losses are explained to the other party. A summons is a document that is used to let all parties involved know when the lawsuit will be heard and lets the defendant know they’ve been sued. This document also sets a specific timeline they must following for responding to the complaint.
Starting the Fact-Finding Process
Once the process is in place, a fact-finding and discovery process takes place. This will include time given to both parties to gather any evidence or facts from each other. Interrogatories are given by both sides to gather each version of what occurred.
Document production is a component of this process. It simply means that all documents related to the case must be shared, which may include some medical documentation, court files, and any other evidence in the case.
Also, depositions occur during this process. In this case, a person is asked questions. Their answers are recorded by a court reporter, who will produce a transcript that can then be used in the lawsuit.
During this process, evidence may come to light to change the opinion or goals of either party. There are opportunities for resolutions to occur here. A Motion to Dismiss may occur, for example, which could request that the charges be dropped due to a lack of evidence or a mistake.
It’s also possible for the insurance company or individual to provide a potential settlement in the case at this point. Settlements may be offers to compromise or agree to specific terms in the hopes of not moving the case forward. As noted, lawsuits are expensive, and insurance companies may wish to try to settle now that they have more evidence.
Assuming no settlement occurs, the case goes before a court. This includes:
- Jury selection
- Opening arguments
- Evidence is presented
- Witnesses speak
- Closing arguments occur
- A jury makes decisions
When your case is completed, a specific judgment is awarded. This will outline the money you’ll receive, how it will be paid, and when it is paid.
Judgments can be challenged by the other party, which can involve more time for a judge to reconsider. Appealing a decision, by either party, is possible after this process.
Hiring an Attorney for Your Car Accident Case Is Critical
Having an attorney at every step of this process allows you to know what to say, what to share, and how to proceed. This basic outline of what happens during a car accident case doesn’t include every document that must be filed or how to adhere to the specific revisions set by the court. Having an attorney by your side through every step ensures you don’t make mistakes that can cost you the compensation you deserve.
At The Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, PC, LLO, you’ll find our team will explain each stage of the legal process and provide you with accurate information about what you can expect. Contact our office for a free consultation.