After a car accident injury, you may think a personal injury lawsuit and trial will get you the best result. That may be, but in many cases, settling the lawsuit is the best option.
If you have been in a car accident, you should talk to a good car accident lawyer Portland to help you determine your best legal steps. Below is more information about settling or going to court.
Many Claims End in Settlement
Most car accident victims do not know that most claims end in a settlement, not a jury verdict. Most car accident lawsuits settle well before a trial ever takes place. Also, many insurance claims are resolved in a settlement without a lawsuit ever filed. That said, in most cases, it is smart to be represented by a good personal injury attorney, whether you settle or go to court.
Below are some of the advantages of settling a car accident lawsuit before filing suit:
- You will get your compensation much faster. If you have severe injuries, you probably have medical bills, lost work time, and pain and suffering. You may need to get money sooner than later. A personal injury lawsuit can take months to resolve, while a settlement can be done in weeks in some cases.
- Avoid expensive lawyer fees. Going to trial means the cost of your case is much higher. Personal injury attorneys will have much higher expenses if they must prepare for a trial. Also, attorneys usually get a higher contingency fee when they go to court.
- Avoid going to court. In a lawsuit, you probably need to go to hearings, depositions, and the trial. All of this is stressful, takes time, and takes you away from your family and work.
- Avoid a wildcard jury. You may think you have a strong case, and your attorney may agree. But attorneys will tell you that you never know what a jury will decide. If you do not come across as sympathetic or if they think you are not as injured as you claim, or any other reason, you may walk away with nothing.
What you must determine is whether the risk of losing in court and getting no compensation outweighs the difference between a settlement offer and what you think the case is worth. This is a complex question that you and your attorney need to answer.
Settlement Talks Start With a Demand Letter
Long before your case goes to court, your attorney will draft a demand letter to send to the other driver’s attorney or insurance company.
There is a lot of preparation and gathering of evidence that needs to happen before the demand letter is written. If you have gotten medical treatment, you need to get all your medical records from each care provider. This can take weeks or months. Each medical office may charge a fee.
If you have been off work, you need to get a copy of your employment records. These documents should show how many hours you worked and your hourly rate before you were hurt. They also should show any time that you missed because of the accident. Also, you and your attorney need any information about liability for the crash, such as a police accident report, witness statements, photographs, etc.
Once you have all these records, your attorney will draft a demand letter. The letter details your version of what happened in the accident, what it has cost you, and how much money you want. Most attorneys say the demand letter should include your medical records.
After the other side acknowledges receipt of your demand letter, settlement talks start.
Going to Trial: It usually is best to settle your car accident claim before going to court. But in some cases, the other side may not make you a fair offer. They may not make an offer at all, especially if fault for the accident is contested.
If no settlement is going to happen, your attorney will file suit in court by writing a legal complaint and sending it to the right court. You also must serve this complaint to the other driver with a police officer or process server. The other driver has about 20 days to answer.
Next is the discovery process. During this period, you will ask for various information from the defendant and they will do the same from you. You can ask the other side questions in writing and request documents. Your attorney also can get information by deposition.
After this step is completed, the case goes to court. The trial will involve the judge or jury hearing all evidence and rendering a decision. If they find in your favor, the jury will decide how much compensation you get.
However, even during the trial, you and your attorney can still try to negotiate a settlement with the other side. Settlement negotiations can occur until the jury delivers its verdict.
In summary, most car accident cases end in settlement. But it is always wise to hire the best car accident lawyer Portland that you can because you never know if you will need to take a case to trial.