Up to 50 million people experience injuries due to car accidents each year. It may come as a surprise that not many of these car accident cases end up heading to the courtroom. Even if an accident victim pursues a significant injury claim, that claim won’t necessarily escalate to a court case.
Instead, the victim and defendant are more likely to settle out of court. Why is that? Read on to learn why most car accident cases never go to trial!
Settle a Case Sooner
A car accident settlement outside of court can happen quickly, provided all parties come to an agreement. A court case is a different story. Several variables can stretch the timetable for a case to come to trial, making a settlement more appealing.
For starters, it takes time to serve defendants who caused the accident with a complaint. A victim also will need to give that individual time to respond. And after that, both parties will be at the mercy of the judge’s schedule, as well as the time needed to prepare the case.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys may try to prevent a case from going to court. Contesting a trial can add months to the process. And ultimately, it could even take over a year before the court reaches a decision.
Once a court reaches a decision, the other side may appeal that decision, too. This can stretch the courtroom experience another year if not more. And legal fees for both sides will continue to mount during this time.
The eventual compensation from the case may not even be enough to cover those legal fees. Likewise, those legal fees will gouge into money that could help pay for the victim’s medical treatments. As a result, it may not be worth the cost and risk to take a case to trial.
Going with a settlement means that the victim may receive compensation more quickly. The victim will need to release the necessary information for the defendant and their attorneys to review first. This information includes witness statements, injury records, and other evidence.
Once the defense reviews this information, both parties will be able to meet and, ideally, come to an agreement. While this may require a few rounds of negotiation, there is less red tape to slow down the process. Within weeks or months, both sides should be able to reach a settlement that provides fair compensation to the victim.
Insurance Companies Prefer Settling
Most insurance companies prefer the possibility of settling, too. That’s particularly true of the insurance company representing the reckless driver in a case. They don’t want to be made to pay more than they feel is necessary.
If a defendant needs to pay damages, the defendant’s insurance company will end up paying the compensation. For obvious reasons, the insurance company doesn’t want to do this. They want to minimize their expenses.
This means that insurance companies prioritize staying out of court and avoiding extra attorney fees. They also don’t want to risk a scenario where a jury or judge awards a heftier compensation amount to the victim.
If an insurance company pushes for a settlement, the victim will need to keep their guard up. During a settlement process, the insurance companies may offer a low settlement amount to keep down their expenses. While it’s tempting to accept any money, it’s best to avoid rushing to do so.
A savvy lawyer will recognize a low offer and negotiate for more money on behalf of the victim. Keep in mind that a good attorney also will be able to use the precedent of similar types of cases to argue for a particular monetary amount.
Another key benefit of hiring a car accident lawyer is that they will know how to present evidence in a persuasive manner. For example, the Alpha Accident Lawyers are able to gather all the necessary information and make a compelling presentation to an insurance adjuster.
When insurance companies push for a settlement, victims need to make sure they have an experienced attorney on their side. Their attorney will handle pulling together the paperwork to substantiate their claim. By contrast, a crash victim seeking self-representation will struggle to earn the insurance company’s respect.
A comprehensive claim will include the police report, medical bills and records, and photos of the scene. Evidence also can include descriptions of injuries and crash events. An attorney will be able to justify the claim value and help fight for the highest dollar amount.
Avoid Court Costs
Yes, it’s tempting to threaten legal action after an accident. It can be fulfilling emotionally to take a reckless driver to court. But unless a victim has the budget to pay for an attorney’s continued service, they may want to avoid ending up in court.
One big reason that settling out of court is preferable is that it can save money. Attorney fees can cost over $100 per hour. And they’ll be amassing lots of hours.
With the amount of preparation they’ll need to do on a victim’s account, the total costs can run into thousands of dollars. If the case continues for several years, it’s easy for attorney fees to hit five or six figures.
If a credible witness, such as a doctor, needs to speak at the trial, that’s another cost. With multiple witnesses, the costs will continue to rise sometimes to $10,000 or more for payments. And those witnesses will need charts and other printed visuals to help make a compelling case.
Other court costs include filing fees, subpoenas, and transcriptions. For victims with existing debt, these fees can worsen their financial situation. This is particularly true if the trial’s outcome does not meet the needs or expectations heading into it.
Costs don’t just pertain to the courtroom, either. A victim may need to miss work to appear in court and meet with an attorney. This translates to lost income and potentially a lost job if absences add up.
In addition, the expected compensation may not arrive in one convenient payment. Rather, the victim could be waiting several years to receive the full amount they are owed. Consequently, they may not have enough money on a monthly basis to cover things like medical bills.
Return to Work and Life Quickly
Over 20% of adults deal with chronic pain, and car accident injuries can trigger this problem. Adding the stress of preparing for a court case won’t do anything to help with accident recovery. In a court case, a victim may not have the time to deal with their medical condition.
A victim may end up missing or rescheduling critical medical appointments to make court dates. Or they may postpone treatments until they receive compensation. The result of these actions could be an even worse health situation.
Moving forward with a settlement offers the most efficient solution for everyone. It’s also the least disruptive one for someone hoping to return to their normal work schedule. They won’t need to ask for extra time off.
Crash victims aren’t the only ones who want to move on, either. The attorneys have the incentive to wrap up a case quickly, too. This is especially true if they are working on contingency, where they’ll make money only if the victim receives money.
Attorneys don’t want to invest unpaid time into efforts that won’t produce a sure result. The worst case scenario would be researching everything needed to go to trial, only to then lose.
Attorneys are better off working up a settlement out of court. That way, they’re assured money and they won’t need to put in as much time. Since firms tend to take on lots of personal injury cases, they may lack the staffing to prepare for court cases, too.
A victim may hope that, over time, a settlement offer may increase. But there’s no guarantee of that happening. And, if the victim loses the case, they and their attorney will receive nothing.
The courts prefer that the victim returns to normal life soon, as well. Too many personal injury cases can clog the court system. This just contributes to slower timelines for other cases hoping to move through.
Steer Clear of Unexpected Jury Decisions
A car accident trial may sound like an opportunity to get more money to cover damages. However, that’s not always true. The wildcard with any court case is the jury.
Jurors are selected with the goal of finding impartial members. Even so, there’s no way to anticipate how a surprise witness or well-crafted presentation from a defense attorney can persuade someone. A car crash accident victim takes a risk by allowing their case to go to trial.
A car accident victim cannot predict how a jury will rule in a case. For instance, a jury may not award the full amount that the victim hoped to get. As a result, the victim may be short on money to cover medical expenses or lost wages.
A jury may decide that the victim has not offered enough proof to show that the defendant caused the accident. The victim may not have visible injuries that make a compelling case to the jury. Or perhaps the victim didn’t go to a doctor right after the accident and, as a result, they don’t have medical records.
If the jury has any doubts about who’s at fault, they may not rule in the victim’s favor. Working toward a settlement is a safer strategy. Both parties will have more control over determining the outcome, as opposed to letting a judge or jury make the decisions.
Most attorneys would prefer the sure bet of a settlement out of court. They’ll work to persuade their client to avoid pushing for a trial because of their knowledge of the risks.
Bypass Added Emotional Trauma
With 80% of American adults feeling stressed each week, a car accident can only add to the challenges. Car accident victims don’t want to prolong the post-traumatic stress they feel. They might be dealing with anxiety, nightmares, and other stinging feelings.
The best solution for a victim’s mental health is to steer clear of a courtroom experience. It’s better to work toward moving on. And with a good attorney at their side, they should be able to get fair compensation through a settlement.
Many accident victims end up testifying in court. This experience can be intense and intimidating. A defense attorney will do what they can to diminish the crash victim’s credibility and need.
The victim may be asked to recount the exact details of the accident. They may be asked to reveal personal details to discredit their story. The level of interrogation can cause an already stressful situation to worsen.
That’s why a car accident settlement offers the best solution. Both the crash victim and the at-fault individual will be able to avoid having their lives in the spotlight. A settlement is a more discrete way to approach problem-solving.
Further, the anxiety that comes with not knowing how a jury will respond to evidence can be crippling. If a case doesn’t seem to be heading down a positive pathway, that could push a victim into a deeper depression.
Many Car Accident Cases Don’t Go to Trial
Car accident cases generally don’t go to court, in part because it saves time and money. Victims won’t have to worry about unpredictable jury decisions, either, and they can move on with their lives. Avoiding a lengthy court case allows the victim to avoid the emotional trauma of reliving their experience, as well.
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