How Often Do Car Accident Cases Go to Court?
- February 25, 2022 |
- Car Accidents
When you make a personal injury claim for compensation after a car accident, you put a series of events in motion that may or may not result in your case going to court. But just how often do car accident cases go to court? There’s no definite answer on how often a car accident claim goes to court, as personal injury claims for accidents usually settle before they reach the courtroom.
If your case does go to court, it could be some time before a judgment is reached. At this point, you might be asking the question of “How long does a court hearing last for a car accident?” Once again, there’s no definitive answer. The odds of your case reaching court are small, but not improbable. Every car accident claim is different, and those differences mean it’s not easy to predict what’s going to happen as the case progresses.
The fact remains that your chances of recovering damages that are equal to the financial loss you sustained in an accident are strong when you take legal action. You can get a better idea of what you can expect from pursuing a claim by seeking the assistance of a Springfield car accident lawyer. It is highly likely that an attorney will be able to obtain more than you would if you tried to negotiate a claim on your own. The following is a look at how the personal injury claim process works and what triggers filing your case with the courts.
Starting the Claims Process After a Car Accident
After you’ve been in a car accident where you’re not at fault for your injuries, you should contact a car accident lawyer for help with making a claim for the economic damages you suffered. A lawyer goes to work on your behalf and takes care of negotiations with the insurance company while you recover from your injuries. You won’t have to deal with the insurance adjuster or any other insurance company representative. The only person you’ll hear from while your claim is active is your lawyer when there’s news to communicate.
Your car accident lawyer determines the total amount of the economic damages you suffered as a result of the accident, then sends it to the insurance company as part of a settlement offer. The insurance company and your lawyer work on negotiating a suitable amount, and the lawyer brings you the offers from the insurance company for you to accept or reject.
It occasionally happens that the insurance company doesn’t agree with the proposed settlement, or you and your lawyer refuse to accept the offers because they’re insufficient. That’s when your next step is to file the case in court. The decision to file a case is between you and your lawyer. Once the case is filed the case could still settle, be handled with an alternative resolution or may ultimately go to trial.
Sometimes a case gets stretched out by the insurance company in an attempt to run out the statute of limitations. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is three years. This is true for most types of personal injury claims, including hit-and-run accidents. There are some exceptions to cases that need to be filed sooner, like when the other party is a state or city employee. When it gets close to the statute of limitations, the next step in preserving your right to recovery is filing a lawsuit.
My Case is Heading to Court. What Happens Next?
Your case would be filed at court when you, your car accident lawyer, and the insurance company can’t agree on a settlement. Just how long does a court case last for a car accident once its filed? It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years for a case to come to a conclusion. Some of the procedures involved in a court case take time to complete and are necessary to ensure that the defending party has time to respond to the lawsuit summons and prepare for court. Other factors involve the time it takes to conduct discovery, the court location, the court’s timeline, and schedule. These are some of the steps involved in starting a car accident lawsuit:
- Filing of the case by the plaintiff (you) and serving the complaint on the defendant
- Defendant has a period of time to respond to the complaint
- Discovery of the facts related to the case begins; it ends when all facts are gathered
- Defendant may offer a settlement
- Trial begins if the settlement is rejected
- Further settlement offers may be made while trial is underway
- Judgment is issued upon conclusion of the case
Your car accident lawyer can give you a better idea of how long a court hearing typically lasts for a car accident, depending on the circumstances of your case and other factors that affect the operation of the court.
What Percentage of Car Accident Cases Go to Trial?
No definitive number exists to tell you how often car accidents wind up in court, but studies suggest that up to 95% of all potential lawsuits are settled before they reach court.
There are a number of factors that go into each car accident case that can increase the chances of your case turning into one that goes to court.
Factors That Influence the Odds of Winning Your Case
Evidence is the major factor that helps you win your case. Massachusetts is a comparative fault state. That means that if you’re assigned more than 50% of the fault for the accident, you can’t recover for damages. If you were less than 50% at fault, you can recover damages, but the amount you can recover is decreased according to the amount of fault. Having evidence of the other party’s negligence helps you lower your responsibility for the accident and puts more weight on your being the victim, increasing the odds that you’ll win the lawsuit.
Car Accident Cases That Go to Trial Have a Lower Standard of Evidence Than Criminal Cases in Massachusetts
Car accident and other injury claims that are filed in court are heard in the court’s civil division, as opposed to the criminal division. The civil division is split into district court and superior court depending on the value of your medical bills, lost wages, and injuries you have received from the accident. In general, civil cases are cases that involve people suing one another for various reasons and want a judge or jury to hear the case and deliver a verdict for monetary damages. Civil court requires an injured person show through a burden of proof, or evidence, that you suffered both medically and financially through no or limited fault of your own to recover for those injuries. However, it’s a very good idea to have a car accident lawyer in your corner to handle this process on your behalf and work with you each step of the way.
Contact Us Today for Help With Your Car Accident Case
At the Cava Law Firm, we feel that our clients deserve the best legal help we can provide. We make it a point to give each client personalized attention and make sure to provide them with the most advantageous legal strategies. Give us a call at (413) 737-3430 to set up a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss the details of your case.
We’re here to listen and talk with you about the process of pursuing a claim for damages related to your accident. We can also advise you on the potential of your case reaching a settlement or whether there’s a chance that it needs to be taken to court for resolution.