Car Accident Lawsuits


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Once your attorney files a car accident compensation claim, there are different paths your case can take to resolution.  Your case can end in a settlement, mediation, arbitration, or trial. 

Go to Trial or Settle?

When deciding whether to proceed with an auto accident injury settlement or go forward with the expense and time of a trial, an insurance company looks at the likelihood of winning at trial. The more likely they are to win against your auto insurance medical claims , the more likely they are to take it all the way to trial. If they think they will likely lose at trial, they will be motivated to settle to save the company the cost of going to trial.  Your attorney will weigh the same factors.

In weighing the risks and advantages of going to trial or settling, an attorney will prepare a car accident lawsuit defense strategy based on what your goals are. If a case goes to trial, the attorney will have to put a lot more of his time into preparing for court.  If a case settles quickly, the attorney gets his percentage of your award for doing very little work.  It is that kind of scenario which can create a conflict of interest between you and your attorney.  If your case is not strong enough to risk a trial though, it is best to settle.  A mediator can help the parties see the merits and weaknesses of the case through the eyes of someone who does not have a stake in the case.

Auto Injury Settlements

In a settlement, both parties have to move a little toward the other party’s value of the claim.  Settlement can be a quick and painless method for getting reimbursed for your damages.  There is always a chance you could get more compensation from a trial, but it is a risk because you could also get less if a judge or jury agrees with the insurance company’s view of your case.

A settlement can come at the beginning of your claim, or the day before the trial.  Anytime the parties want to agree on conditions, they can.

Car Accident Court: The Trial

Do you want to go before a jury?  Do you want to take the witness stand in court?  If the idea of either of these things is terrifying to you, then you should talk to your attorney about considering arbitration or mediation.  Both are less formal, without a jury, and will get you result faster so you can get on with your life.  Car accident lawsuits takes time and energy from all parties involved and can quickly take over your life.  People lose sleep over the details of the suit and lose time from work for depositions, meetings with attorneys, and getting medical exams to prove their car accident injury symptoms in court.  The insurance company for the defendant will usually require the plaintiff to attend a medical exam with a doctor of their choosing in proving that their medical injuries are either not as extreme as the plaintiff claims, or was not caused by the car accident at all. 

What About Mediation?

A mediator can be very helpful in moving both sides to a resolution.  Both sides have a strong opinion on what the case is worth and what the actual damages are.  A mediator can give an objective opinion to help both sides come closer together.  As dollar amounts get closer, the more likely both sides are to settling because going to trial is a risk for both sides.  No one ever knows how a jury is going to see a case or how much a jury is going to award when determining fault in a car crash.  The makeup of the people on the jury has a big impact on the amount awarded and you never know what kind of people you will get.  The incentive for settling is that you get a guaranteed amount of money without the risk.  Some people refuse to settle and can end up getting less from a jury than they would have gotten from the settlement.  For the insurance company, it’s a numbers game that they play every day.  They have many cases every day they have to settle or take to trial, and a party making a claim needs to weight all the risks and advantages of going to court.

Car Injury Lawyers or an Arbitrator?

An arbitrator is often a binding decision. An arbitration hearing is less formal than a trial which has its advantages and disadvantages.  Arbitration will be less time-consuming and you will get results much faster than going to trial.  An arbitration can be set as a binding high/low which sets a limit so both parties know the amount of the award cannot go too low or too high. 

It is important to remember that you make the decisions with regard to your case.  Your attorney cannot settle or turn down an offer to settle, without your approval.  It is always your decision.  The attorney will hopefully advise you as to how he thinks you should proceed and he should give you his reasoning for suggesting any course of action, but the final call is always yours. 

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