A car accident lawsuit is a personal injury case. Like all personal injury cases, it connotes that someone got hurt due to an at-fault driver’s negligence. This could be because the careless driver was speeding, using a cellphone while driving, or disobeying any traffic rules.
Typically, car accident victims get their settlements from the negligent driver’s insurance company. That means that going to court to get damages isn’t always necessary. However, in some cases, filing a car accident lawsuit may be the only option for recovering damages.
If you are a first-time car accident victim, it’s normal to feel uneasy about an approaching compensation lawsuit. That’s even more so if you have no idea about what to expect in the courtroom. In such situations, it’s essential to talk to your car accident attorney about your fears.
Your lawyer is the only one who understands your case better than you do. Nonetheless, in this article, we will let you in on what to expect when you file a car accident lawsuit.
When Will an Auto Accident Case Go to Court?
In the U.S., states like Indiana are at-fault states. That means negligent drivers must use their insurance to pay compensation to the other driver for losses from the crash. As a result, many car accident claims conclude in a fair settlement without recourse to the courts.
However, there are many cases where victims have no choice but to file a lawsuit. Such cases include:
No Fair Settlement
Indeed, insurance companies don’t like to pay compensation. So, when they don’t have a choice, they opt for paying meager amounts. By doing this, they’re hoping that the claimants don’t push for more.
If you’re not comfortable with the proposed compensation, your lawyer can advise you to file a car accident lawsuit. That way, the courts will decide what amounts to ample compensation for you and compel the insurance company to pay.
Disagreement As to Who Is at Fault
The insurer will not pay you any money except they are convinced that their client is at fault. To this end, negotiations for damages will not commence until both parties agree on who bears liability. If disagreements continue, proceeding to trial may be the most visible option for the claimant.
Negotiation Has Broken Down Completely
Disagreements during settlement negotiations can arise for various reasons. If, for whatever reason, negotiations can not commence or conclude, you can file a car accident lawsuit.
What Happens During the Car Accident Lawsuit?
The method of proceedings in car accident lawsuits varies from state to state. However, we’d discuss the procedures that many states, including Indiana, have in common:
Court proceedings usually commence with opening statements from both parties. Typically, the plaintiff’s lawyer starts first, after which the defendant’s attorney takes it up from them.
The plaintiff’s attorney makes the opening statement first because the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff. As such, the defense counsel only replies to refute the plaintiff’s allegations. The purpose of the opening statements is to set the ball rolling for the jury. It helps the jury to understand what the case is about.
Presentation of Evidence
After the opening statements, the trial starts properly. Here, the plaintiff’s lawyer produces proof to back up the allegations made in the opening remarks. Right after the plaintiff’s attorney presents evidence, the defense lawyer presents proof to refute the plaintiff’s evidence.
Presentation of evidence includes calling witnesses, tendering relevant documents, etc. During the trial, both parties will examine and cross-examine witnesses to push their narratives.
While opening statements help the trial to commence, closing arguments mark the end of the trial. During closing arguments, the lawyers on both sides summarize the proceeding while persuading the jury to rule in their favor.
The Jury Decides
After the closing remarks, the jury retreats to deliberate on the evidence and make a decision. Since car accident lawsuits are civil cases, the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities. As such, the jury reaches a verdict based on which party’s arguments and evidence are more convincing. After they reach a verdict, they notify the judge, who enters it as the court’s judgment.
Consult With a Car Accident Attorney for Free!
If your car accident claim results in a lawsuit, you need a competent personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Not every attorney has experience in handling such matters. Therefore, it’s best not to gamble with your case by consulting the first lawyer you meet.
Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers are the most experienced car accident attorneys in Indianapolis. Call us to schedule a free consultation immediately.