Most car accident cases do not go to court, and relatively few lawsuits go all the way to trial. The majority of civil cases—including car accident cases—end with a settlement.
With this said, every case is different, and your case will present unique circumstances. There is no telling whether your case will settle or go to trial until it reaches its conclusion.
There are a few reasons why car accident cases generally settle before going to trial.
Civil trials are generally:
The fact is, a trial isn’t always necessary. If the plaintiff and defendant(s) can agree to a settlement, there’s no reason to go to court.
Most reasonable people avoid spending (or paying) money if they can help it. It’s reasonable that a defendant—including the defendant in your case—wouldn’t volunteer to compensate you.
Eventually, though, a defendant may decide that settling makes sense because:
These are compelling reasons to settle.
A plaintiff may settle for some of the same reasons a defendant would. As a plaintiff, you (or your attorney) may not want to pay the cost of a trial—at least, if they don’t have to. A competent attorney will always be willing to go to trial if it’s the right decision for their client.
In addition to avoiding the cost of a trial, a plaintiff may settle because:
Many factors determine whether you’ll settle or go to court. The most important question, for most, is this: Does a settlement offer compensate you fairly? If it does, then you may agree to the settlement.
Going to court may be necessary whenever a plaintiff and defendant can’t settle.
A defendant may choose to go to trial if:
A plaintiff may also choose to go to trial rather than settle. They may do so because:
Every case is unique. Each plaintiff and defendant are unique. Motivations to go to trial, or to settle, can vary.
Each car accident victim suffers unique damages. Determining a fair settlement figure requires knowledge of a victim’s losses.
Losses from a car accident may include:
Your attorney will identify which losses you’ve suffered and the monetary value of those losses. This will provide them with the value of a fair settlement.
Like damages, liability varies from case to case. The reality is that negligent motorists cause most accidents. When a motorist causes an accident, they may be liable for resulting damages, but other parties might also share responsibility.
Negligence is the common standard for liability. Someone is negligent when they depart from reasonable standards of conduct.
The steps for proving negligence are:
Parties other than motorists can be liable for a car accident. A governmental body, pedestrian, mechanic, and vehicle manufacturer can bear liability. Your attorney will investigate your accident to determine liability.
A personal injury lawyer should do everything in their power to win the client’s case. The client should be able to focus on their recovery. The attorney, meanwhile, will handle the legal process.
A personal injury lawyer’s responsibilities generally include:
Insurance companies and other attorneys may try to take advantage of the car accident victim. A lawyer’s foremost responsibility is protecting the client’s rights.
Personal injury lawyers generally work for a contingency fee. The lawyer doesn’t receive this fee when they accept the case. Rather, they only get paid if they win the client’s case. The fee is contingent upon the lawyer securing compensation for the client.
Contingency fees ensure that every car accident victim can hire a lawyer.
Car accident cases are subject to deadlines depending on state law. In Florida, for example, you generally have four years after your accident to file a personal injury case, while Washington gives you three years. You may have only two years to file a wrongful death case. Your lawyer will need to honor these deadlines. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the longer they’ll have to investigate, negotiate, and file your case.
You may face many challenges after your car accident. By hiring a lawyer, you can mark your case off of the list.