St Louis Car Accident Specialists
You may have to go to court if you’re involved in a car accident and the other driver is uninsured or doesn’t have insurance to pay for all the damage.
Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien have been a trusted law firm serving Missourians for over 40 years.
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How Car Accident Cases Are Resolved
Car accidents are an everyday occurrence in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that someone is injured in a car accident every 10 seconds.
About 95% of lawsuits are settled outside of court, and this is also true for car accident cases. The remaining 5% of lawsuits go to trial. About 90% of personal injury trials are ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
Most car accident cases are resolved outside of court primarily to avoid the expense and time associated with court cases. Other reasons why car accident cases settle out of court are:
- The plaintiff receives their money sooner if a case is settled out of court
- The outcome of a court case is unpredictable, and the plaintiff risks having a judgment against them and going home empty-handed
- Insurance companies prefer to settle cases rather than go to court
- The quicker a car accident case is resolved, the quicker plaintiffs can resume their lives
Nonetheless, there are times when court hearings before a judge are the only option to resolve a claim.
This article discusses when car accident cases are brought to court, what happens during a trial, and how long a trial can take.
When Do Car Accident Cases Go to Court?
There are some instances in which taking your car accident case to court makes sense.
1. When the Fault of the Accident Is Questionable
Sometimes the driver who has caused the car accident denies any fault or wrongdoing. The question of fault is dealt with differently depending on whether you reside in a state which is a ‘fault’ state or a ‘no-fault’ state.
In a fault state, the case is made based on which party caused the accident. The party who causes the accident must pay for damages. In some cases, you may even be responsible for your accident if you are deemed to be at fault, even partly. This affects how much in damages you stand to receive for your injuries.
In some states, a police officer report may suggest which party is at fault. Still, an insurance adjuster often comes to their own conclusion on the question of fault.
No-fault states require everyone to have insurance coverage to which they can make claims regardless of fault. The amount of compensation paid becomes a matter between two insurance companies to resolve.
2. The Insurance Company Is Offering an Inadequate Settlement
Sometimes the insurance company refuses to pay the injured person any compensation or an inadequate amount for the injuries suffered.
Before deciding to court, you may want to negotiate with the insurance companies to see whether you can get close to the compensation you deserve without having to go to court.
3. Complex Cases or When There are Serious Injuries
In complex cases where the accident victims sustain grave injuries, or there is an overwhelming amount of evidence, a court can provide the means to resolve these cases.
A court can also award larger settlement figures than insurance companies for complex cases.
These cases often involve wrongful deaths or extreme negligence.
If you are considering taking your car accident case to court in Springfield, Missouri, speak to our dedicated car accident attorney in Springfield and take advantage of our free consultation offer.
Confused about car accidents in St Louis? We are here to answer your questions.
What Happens When Car Accident Cases Go to Trial?
When car accident cases go to trial, the court becomes a platform where parties in conflict have the opportunity to present their case fairly. Court proceedings typically involve a judge, attorneys, and the jury.
Jury Selection: There are laws and procedures followed for jury selection. The jury contains twelve persons selected randomly from the electoral register. This process involves the participation of both sides.
Opening Statements: Lawyers from both sides present their opening statements. The plaintiff or the person who has filed the car accident lawsuit gives the first opening statement. The opening statement outlines the evidence to the jury and gives them an idea of what to expect during the rest of the court hearing.
The attorney for the defendant then makes their opening statement, usually defending the claims made by the plaintiff or making counterclaims.
Presenting of the case by your attorney: Your car accident attorney presents all the evidence supporting your claims about the car accident to the jury. Examples of evidence include testimonies from witnesses, experts, medical professionals, and your testimony.
The opposing attorney cross-examines these claims and objects to any evidence they deem irrelevant.
Response or challenge of the case by the other party: The opposing party then presents evidence to the jury to discount the plaintiff’s claims. However, the plaintiff’s attorney will have the chance to cross-examine any witnesses and challenge the evidence brought forward.
Closing Arguments: Your lawyer uses this opportunity to try and convince the judge and jury why they should find in favor of the plaintiff and award the full compensation sought. The opposing side then puts forward their argument on why the jury should find for them instead.
Verdict: The jury deliberates privately with guidance from the judge and returns with a verdict in favor of one party.
Car accident court proceedings can be a complicated process, so you should seek the services of an experienced car accident lawyer. They will ensure that your car accident court case flows smoothly.
How Long Does a Car Accident Trial Last?
Car accident trials can be over in one or two days from the time jury selection begins to when the verdict is given. However, some cases can take longer if they are complex or appeals are made.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help You?
If you have been injured in a car accident and are wondering about making a legal claim, you might want to speak to a skilled personal injury lawyer.
They can advise you on claims you can make and the process of making those claims. If you decide to go ahead and lodge a claim, personal injury attorneys can also help you file those claims.
Personal injury attorneys can also prepare for any court case, gather the relevant evidence and represent you in court.