An individual who ends up in a serious car accident hopes that their insurance company will be able to compensate them for their injuries and property damage. In many cases, the process goes smoothly, but other victims face more challenges. A car accident victim who is unable to settle their claim has the option of reaching out to a lawyer. Every situation is different. In some cases, matters will escalate and a court trial is necessary.
The thought of going to court trial can be intimidating, but not many cases actually end up there. One main reason why car accident cases go to court is if the claimant and insurance company cannot agree on a settlement, even after prolonged negotiations. Another reason for trial is when the two parties disagree about who is liable for the car accident. The answer to that is not always clear. Many times, two or more drivers may share responsibility for a crash. One example of this could be if one driver was speeding and the other was texting and distracted at the time of the collision.
If negotiations are not successful, the car accident lawyer may advise their client to go to trial. It is important to know that there are statutes of limitations for filing court cases, depending on state laws. Also, negotiations may continue after court cases are filed. The advantages and disadvantages of trial cases should be explained to the client by the lawyer. The final decision to accept the insurance company offer or go to court rests in the hands of the client.
What Happens During Trial?
The initial stages of a court trial include the jury selection and setting a trial date. Potential jurors are chosen and then questioned by the lawyers and judge. Once they are selected, the trial date is set. The legal teams will get to work, collecting the information to build the case.
The trial will begin with each lawyer making an opening statement, and the plaintiff’s side normally starts first. These statements generally last from 15 to 20 minutes. The plaintiff’s lawyer also goes first for presenting evidence, and the claimant will likely be called to testify about what happened before, during, and after the crash. The defense will carry out similar actions, and both sides may question witnesses.
How is Evidence Presented in Trial?
The plaintiff’s side will work to show that the defendant was in some way negligent for causing the accident. The testimony will focus on the extent of their injuries with evidence to back that up from medical providers. A plaintiff may also have to describe the accident scene in detail, as well as the pain and suffering they have endured. If there is physical evidence, that will be presented as well.
There can be differing opinions presented as to how the accident was caused. The defendant and their lawyer and the lawyer representing the auto insurance company will have the chance to cross examine the plaintiff. During this time, this lawyer will likely question the evidence and may also object to what is being presented. A plaintiff and their lawyer will have spent a good deal of time preparing for all the questions before the trail.
The jury and judge will listen to all of this evidence and begin forming their own views. Both sides will also present closing arguments and will discuss the evidence and try to persuade the jury that theirs is the stronger case. After that, the jury will be excused and moved into another room to begin their deliberations. These are confidential, and they will let the judge know when they have arrived at a verdict. These kinds of cases usually take a few hours, but it could be as long as several days. If the plaintiff wins the case, they can expect their compensation in about 15 to 40 business days unless the defendant decides to appeal the case.
Why are Some Claims Denied?
A car accident victim contacts their auto insurance company to start a first-party or third-party claim. A first-party claim is when one vehicle is involved, and a third-party claim involves other drivers. People who file claims expect that the provider will contact them in a reasonable amount of time and address their case. There is usually some back and forth communication, and delays are not unusual. If the accident was serious and there are questions about liability, the process can take longer. A settlement amount can be agreed upon or denied.
Auto insurance companies deny claims for many reasons. These include when the driver did not have valid license or auto insurance or if they feel the driver could have avoided the accident. Delays and denials can also happen when accidents are not reported right away to the insurance company or to law enforcement. Problems can also come up when injured people do not get immediate medical attention. In many situations, the provider might believe that the injuries and property damage occurred after the crash. Insurance companies may also use their own investigators and adjusters. Those parties might determine that their evidence does not support the claimant’s version of what happened.
There might also be questions as to who is actually responsible for the accident, and this is not always easy to determine. Besides all of these reasons, the insurance company may not be completely upfront about why a claim was delayed or denied. This can be difficult for someone who survived an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence. It could be even worse after a fatal accident when someone has lost their life and their family members are seeking compensation through a wrongful death claim.
What if My Settlement is Not Enough?
Even if the insurance company does offer a settlement, it may not be in line with what the claimant has suffered from following the car accident. There are limits to auto insurance payouts that are spelled out in their policies. On top of that, it is not that easy to gauge the cost of pain and suffering. A settlement amount can also be appealed, but this can also be a labor-intensive process without guaranteed results. This would be another reason to contact a car accident lawyer. An experienced lawyer can determine if the case warrants the possibility of a personal injury court trial.
Depending on when the car accident lawyer enters the picture, they will contact the other driver’s auto insurance company and gather evidence to help prove who is responsible for the car accident. The lawyer can also reach out to the claimant’s health care providers and obtain medical records and invoices. This information can then be organized and presented to the insurer to help agree on a settlement amount.
During the settlement process, the lawyer can negotiate with health care providers. Through this process, the outstanding invoices and any other liens might be put on hold until the settlement is reached. The lawyer will also request a revised, formal settlement and can then initiate negotiations with the provider. Insurance companies have to negotiate in good faith but could still refuse to change their stance.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Personal Injury Victims in Trial
If you are faced with an unacceptable car accident settlement or an uncooperative auto insurance provider, contact the Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC for help. If necessary, we will strongly represent you in court. Call us at 302-888-1221 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, Newark, and Middletown.