Coffee Break

Will I Have to Go to Court for My Car Accident Case?

Auto collisions have a wide variety of repercussions, some of which may require extensive civil consequences, and others which result in only small claims. No matter the accident results, as the victim, you have the right to pursue legal action against the negligent driver. This litigation may require that you attend court proceedings if you cannot settle without a trial. There are several important factors considered that will determine why you may need to go to court after your accident.

Why You May Need to Appear in Court After an Accident

Depending on your accident’s severity, you may need to file a claim against the negligent driver to secure the funds for medical treatment and repair any property damages you incurred. Although at times, these damages can be recovered through your insurance policy, insurers are often less than cooperative in resolving victims’ problems after the crash. This is typically due to the insurers’ unwillingness to provide a payout or the inability of yours and the other driver’s insurer to agree on liability.

Disagreements on liability and losses that cannot be covered by existing policies are some of the primary reasons why car accident victims may need to appear in court. With a lawyer’s help, you can gather the necessary evidence to prove your innocence in the collision, and present this documentation, in addition to witness and expert testimonies to a judge or jury.  They will deliberate on the information presented by yours and the defendant’s lawyers and determine the appropriate amount of compensation you need to restore and maintain your health and financial stability.

You will have the opportunity to accept a settlement before going to trial; however, many plaintiffs are offered low totals and find the settlement to be inefficient for their incurred damages. In this case, consult with your lawyer, as you do have the choice to proceed with a trial or not. Circumstances in which you would not have an option to attend court proceedings include that of being summoned. If you witness a car accident and are summoned to court to provide testimony, it is against the law for you to refuse to attend.

What to Expect in Court

Though not all car accident cases will have the same outcome, you can expect the trials to follow a similar order of events:

  • Your lawyer will present all relevant evidence to the judge or jury, including medical records, dashcam footage, and witness and expert testimonies. Note that the defendant will have the opportunity to present evidence, as well.
    • Whether a judge or jury decides the outcome of your case depends on if you and the defendant agree to waive the right to a trial by jury. This is not a decision you should make without a lawyer.
  • If you proceed with a trial by jury, the jury will discuss the details of your case and determine the appropriate compensation award. If your case is heard by a judge, they will make the final decision instead.

Court proceedings for car accidents can be overwhelming and incredibly stressful for plaintiffs. You are likely dealing with your injuries and personal losses all while having to remain calm and collected when legally challenging the driver who harmed you. To ease the litigation process and improve your chances of securing the funds owed to you, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.