If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This is especially true if the crash was caused by someone else’s negligence. But to some people’s surprise, receiving a payout doesn’t mean you have to go to court.
The vast majority of these cases are settled by insurance companies before they wind up in front of a judge and jury. That’s because it’s expensive to take a case to trial and insurance companies know that paying you a settlement is often less costly. JDSupra offers these statistics:
- 95% of personal injury claims settle out of court
- 57% of car accident cases that go to trial are decided in favor of the plaintiff
Beyond expense, here are some additional reasons that most accident cases don’t go to trial:
- It takes much longer to go to trial (sometimes years) than to settle
- A plaintiff receives payment faster if they settle
- Trials are unpredictable and a plaintiff risks receiving nothing
- Insurance companies want to settle
- Plaintiff’s attorneys can’t take every case to trial
- A quick settlement allows a plaintiff to get on with their lives
If you’ve been injured and want to know whether you have a legal claim, the first thing to do is talk to a skilled car accident lawyer. An experienced attorney at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana can assess the facts in your case and advise you about the likelihood of a payout. For a free initial consultation, call us at (251) 444-7000.
Important elements that affect how often car accident cases go to trial
There are many elements that affect how often car accident cases go to trial. Some of these include:
- Who was at fault?
- How severe are your injuries?
- How willing is the other side to negotiate?
- Is the other side negotiating in good faith?
- How strong is your case?
- How strong is your opponent’s case?
- What financial settlement is the other side offering?
- How many defendants are there?
- How much risk does a plaintiff want to take on?
- Is your attorney a skilled litigator?
Because every case is different based on the facts and the people involved, it is hard to make generalizations about which cases go to trial and which don’t. What’s important is that you have an aggressive, persuasive lawyer who will fight hard for you and who is willing to take a case to trial if necessary.
Why do car accident cases go to court?
Determining the likelihood that a car accident case will go to trial
There are a handful of reasons that a car accident case may go to court. They include the following:
- A defendant’s insurance company is not negotiating in good faith. If an insurance company refuses to negotiate or repeatedly low-balls their offers, then it may be necessary to go to court to get a fair payout.
- A plaintiff insists on going to trial. Some plaintiffs believe that they will always get more money if they go to trial. This may or may not be true. Litigation is generally an all-or-nothing proposition. A plaintiff either wins or loses at trial. So, there’s risk involved.
- The evidence is so overwhelming and the plaintiff’s injuries are so severe that a court will almost certainly provide a higher award than the settlement offered by the defendant. In very powerful claims – often involving wrongful death and extreme negligence — a judge can award actual and punitive damages, which can result in millions of dollars in a jury award. But these cases tend to be rare.
What causes some plaintiffs not to receive a settlement?
Not every accident claim is winnable. An attorney has to assess the facts in each case and advise clients about the likelihood of a successful financial settlement. Some things that make a settlement unlikely include:
- A plaintiff doesn’t have enough proof to show that the defendant was at fault for the accident. If you caused the accident and that is undisputable, then it’s very hard to get an insurance company to offer a settlement.
- You suffered only mild scratches and bruises and little or no property damage. Insurance companies are less likely to offer a settlement if you didn’t experience damages.
- A plaintiff does not hire an attorney and tries to represent himself or herself. It’s always a bad idea to try to represent yourself in legal claims. The other side will have experienced lawyers representing them and they know the law much better than accident victims.
Common causes of car accidents
Car accidents can be caused by many factors, some human and others environmental. Following are some of the most common causes:
- Human error. Whether it’s failing to yield a right-of-way, running a red light or swerving into another lane, defective driving often causes accidents.
- Intoxicated driver. If one or more drivers has been drinking alcohol or using drugs, this can cause impaired or dangerous driving.
- Distracted driving. A driver who is texting, talking on a cell phone, listening to loud music, or talking to other passengers can cause them to be distracted and drive carelessly.
- Long hours, fatigue or sleepiness. A driver who is tired or falls asleep at the wheel can cause accidents. Also, truckers who exceed federal guidelines about how many hours they can drive in a day are a danger on the road.
- Inclement weather. Snow, sleet, rain or other dangerous weather can cause roadway accidents even when a driver is being cautious.
- Poor road conditions. Potholes, gravel shoulders, defective road signs, failing bridges, and sub-standard asphalt can cause vehicle accidents.
Common injuries in car accidents
Car accidents are dangerous and often result in multiple injuries. Some of these include:
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Cuts and abrasions
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Extreme fear, trauma, depression and mental difficulties
- Wrongful death
It’s important to get immediate medical attention after a car accident. A victim should do this to prevent further injury and stop any bleeding. Even if you think you are not hurt that badly, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, going to a doctor or emergency room will make sure that you have medical tests, X-rays and other treatments that can later be used to document and prove your legal claim.
What should I do immediately after a car accident?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, here are the steps you should take:
- Get medical attention right away. Your health is critical, and you want to make sure you receive treatment.
- Call 911 and request that police respond to the scene.
- Exchange driver’s license and insurance information with the other driver.
- Say as little as possible to the other driver and DO NOT acknowledge fault or try to explain yourself.
- Get the names and contact information of any bystanders and eyewitnesses to the accident.
- If you’re able, use your cell phone camera to take pictures of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle and the accident scene. Be sure to photograph any skid marks, poor road conditions, or roadway debris.
- Get the name and badge number of the police officer.
- Call an experienced car accident lawyer promptly.
A skilled accident attorney makes all the difference
All attorneys are not created equal. We all know that. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you want to make sure you have the smartest and most aggressive attorney on your side. You want a lawyer who is all-in and committed to your success. This describes the car accident attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana. We are tough on our opponents and compassionate with our clients. We have decades of legal experience representing clients just like you and successfully securing payouts on their behalf through settlements and trials. Let us do the legal heavy lifting while you focus on recovering from your injuries. To find out more about how we can help, call us at (251) 444-7000.