Do I Have To Go To Court For A Car Accident?
If you’ve been injured, you may be wondering whether you have to go to court for a car accident. In many cases, the answer is no. While you will very likely need to file a claim with the court, it’s certainly possible that your case will be resolved through a settlement well before you have to navigate through any court hearings, trial, etc. That can be a relief for plaintiffs who are nervous about going to court, or simply have anxiety about the overwhelming administrative process that “filing a lawsuit” feels like.
Don’t worry! Court appearances aren’t necessarily required to resolve a case. Whether it’s necessary to go to court for a car accident will depend on the facts and particularities of your dispute.
Instead of making any assumptions, we encourage you to speak to an experienced car accident attorney about your case so that you can learn what your next steps should be, and what sort of expectations you should have. Contact us at 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get connected to a qualified attorney in our network. Consultation is free, so there’s no reason for you to delay. Call now!
In this article, we’ll go through some common questions injury victims tend to have about car accidents, with a special focus on certain states. Though bear in mind that the fundamental principles are typically the same from state-to-state.
Settlement vs. Trial: What Really Happens in a Car Accident Case
In most car accident disputes — as with other legal disputes — the conflict is resolved through a negotiated settlement. Industry observers estimate that more than 95 percent of disputes end in settlement. It is a very small minority of cases that require trial litigation, generally because the defendant is simply too hostile to settle (and perhaps they feel that they should fight aggressively to discourage other plaintiffs from bringing claims).
Basically, it’s unlikely you’ll have to go to “trial” court for a car accident — since most cases settle.
Why is settlement so common?
One thing to keep in mind is that going to trial is costly and uncertain. The demand on resources — and on time and energy — is substantial. Spending a year or more on a dispute can be exhausting for everyone involved. Further, there’s no certainty. Yes, while you may have a strong case, there’s always the “possibility” of a loss. And even if you win, the court may not award as much in damages as you would’ve ideally wanted.
Given these uncertainties, settlement is very often the more favorable outcome. After all, it is often better to secure guaranteed, reasonable compensation than to invest even more time and effort into an uncertain, slightly better outcome.
How long does it take to settle a car accident case (in Florida or any other state)?
This can vary from case-to-case, depending on how straightforward liability is, how severe the injury is, how hostile the defendant is, and more. For example, if your case is complicated and the defendant is hostile and unreasonable about making a fair settlement offer, then trying to negotiate a settlement may take a great deal of time — in fact, the case may not even conclude in a settlement. At that point, you may have to take the case all the way to trial court for a car accident in order to secure fair compensation.
Settlement can occur as early as a few weeks after the accident, to as late as years later. It depends on many factors, so don’t make too many assumptions about how long it will take to settle. Discuss the strategic possibilities with your attorney and be open to the push-and-pull realities of your case.
The Role of an Attorney in a Car Accident Case
Attorneys play a number of different roles in a car accident case. These responsibilities may include the following:
- Gathering and preserving evidence
- Developing a legal strategy
- Speaking to insurers, opposition, and third parties on your behalf
- Negotiating a settlement
- Handling all procedural issues
- Navigating hearings, interrogatories, documentary requests, and other court processes
- Interviewing witnesses
- Working with experts
- Taking the case to trial, if necessary
- Securing the judgment
- And more
Throughout the entire litigation process, your attorney will work as your legal advocate. This role is broader than many first-time plaintiffs realize. That’s why it’s so important to work with an attorney as soon as possible after your car accident — there are aspects of the case that they can help you with much earlier than you may realize.
Can you sue an uninsured driver in Virginia?
Yes, Virginia law does not prevent you from suing the uninsured driver. That being said, it’s difficult to recover much compensation from an uninsured individual. As such, an effective legal strategy may require that you identify other defendants who are also responsible for your injuries — these defendants may have insurance coverage, allowing you to recover more compensation than if you had only sued the uninsured driver.
How long after a car accident can you sue in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations deadline for a standard negligence-based car accident claim is two years from the date of injury. If you fail to bring a claim within that deadline period, then the court is entitled to dismiss your claim. That means that you’ll be left without any legal recourse for compensation.
Given the severe consequences of “waiting too long,” it’s critical to seek the assistance of an attorney at an early stage. Your attorney has a duty under the law to act in a timely manner when representing you. As such, they will have to evaluate your case, gather evidence, develop a strategy, and file your claims before the deadline passes. So make sure not to delay!
Do bear in mind that if you have waited past the deadline, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your claim is “dead.” In some cases, certain circumstances may allow for an extension or suspension of the deadline. You should speak to an attorney about that possibility, too.
Damages in a Car Accident: can you sue for pain and suffering in Florida?
Yes, you can sue for pain and suffering under Florida law, if you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault. In fact, depending on the nature of your case, the damages you claim may include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Property loss
- And more
If you have suffered significant injury and loss, then damages can climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more.
How long does an insurance company have to settle a claim in Florida?
In Florida, insurers have a 90-day window during which to make a coverage decision (i.e., a decision whether to pay out your claim, or reject your claim). If and when they decide to settle the claim, they have 20-days to actually pay you the settlement amount. If they delay too much, you may be entitled to sue them for damages.
In some cases, insurance companies may engage in delay tactics in the hopes of getting you to “give up.” This is technically considered bad faith behavior, and could lead to an independent claim against the insurer for damages. So if you feel that your insurance company is engaging in unreasonable delay tactics, don’t just resign yourself to their bad behavior — speak to an attorney about what you can potentially do to get compensated.
How much does an attorney charge for a car accident in Florida?
Most car accident attorneys — in Florida or elsewhere — work on a contingency basis. That means that they don’t cost ANYTHING until or unless you win compensation. Compensation may be secured through a negotiated settlement, or a trial, or some other method. But to put it simply, if you don’t get paid, you don’t have to pay anything to your attorney.
If they do secure compensation on your behalf, an attorney working on contingency will take a percent cut of the total compensation award. This percentage can vary from attorney-to-attorney, and depending on how far along the case is. For example, one attorney might take only a 25 percent cut, while another attorney might take a 40 percent cut. It may be negotiable, so keep that in mind!
That being said, some accident attorneys don’t work on contingency, and instead accept different types of fee arrangements (like hourly fees). So make sure to do your research before you decide to move forward with an attorney. You’ll want to confirm that their fee arrangements are aligned with your needs.
Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 for a Free Consultation
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, then you could be entitled to compensation for your losses — from medical expenses, to lost wages, to pain and suffering, and more. That’s why it’s so important to get in touch with a qualified attorney who can help you figure out your next steps. Since you may not have to go to court for a car accident, don’t assume that it’s going to go in that direction!
Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 to speak to one of our representatives. We’ll ask a few questions and get you connected to an experienced local attorney in our network who can provide a free consultation regarding your case. It takes just a few minutes, so don’t delay! Contact us today to start.
We look forward to speaking with you.