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Will I have to go through a trial in court before my case is finished?
- March 29, 2017
There’s no guarantee whether your case will go through the entire trial process, but it’s far more common for cases to settle than go to trial.
There are several stages to go through before your case goes to trial. The first steps you should take after an accident are getting the necessary medical treatment and consulting with a personal injury attorney. It’s important to get medical treatment promptly for two reasons. The first is that the law requires you to mitigate your damages. What this means is that you need to make an effort to recover from your injuries as soon as possible. If you don’t do so, it could result in you recovering a reduced amount later for your damages, or even recovering nothing at all. The second is that waiting to obtain medical treatment could affect your credibility in the eyes of the jury. They may wonder why you didn’t get treatment immediately, and it’s possible some could suspect you of trying to game the system.
You need to consult with an attorney as soon as possible so that the attorney can instruct you on how to proceed going forward. Many car accident victims end up inadvertently weakening their cases by making recorded statements to the other party’s insurance adjuster, or sign away their rights in the form of a medical authorization release or other paperwork. When you have an attorney, you can ask his advice before speaking with anybody or signing anything. You can also instruct the other party’s insurance adjuster or defense attorney to talk to your attorney instead of you.
When you hire a personal injury attorney, he will look into what happened. This will typically include a review of the police report, statements made by any neutral witnesses, your medical records and any hard evidence that’s available. After assessing the situation, the attorney will let you know if you have a case.
If your attorney believes that you have a case, he will determine an amount to demand from the other party’s attorney or insurance company. Your attorney shouldn’t make this demand until after you’ve finished your treatment and completed your recovery. Before that, he doesn’t know how much to demand, because your treatment isn’t finished yet.
After the lawyer makes his demand, the defense can either agree to this demand and settle the case, offer a lower amount as a settlement or decline the settlement entirely. If the defense isn’t willing to offer an acceptable amount as a settlement, then your attorney will file a lawsuit.
Once the lawsuit is filed, there’s a discovery process where both sides can see the evidence that the other has. After this, the attorneys will discuss settlements again. There’s also the possibility of mediation, where both clients and their attorneys go in front of a mediator in an attempt to settle the case.
If the two sides still can’t come to an agreement, then the case will go to trial. The pretrial and trial processes can both be lengthy, especially because delays are common. The trial itself could go on for days, weeks or months. During the trial process, the attorneys can still meet and discuss settlement offers.
If you have a personal injury case, you can’t be sure of what will happen, but it’s unlikely that it will go to trial. There are plenty of opportunities for both sides to settle the case before a trial, and that’s usually what happens. Often, the two sides agree to a settlement before the personal injury attorney even needs to file a lawsuit.
What’s important on your end is that you choose a personal injury attorney right away after your accident. Having a skilled attorney to represent you can make all the difference in recovering damages. It’s difficult to deal with insurance adjusters and defense attorneys alone, as they’re much more experienced dealing with claims than the average person is. You need someone just as experienced, and that’s where an attorney comes in.