Car accidents happen every day. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System estimates an astonishing 5,215,071 non-fatal accidents on U.S. roads in 2020. FARS also reported 35,766 fatal accidents in 2020.
You may be entitled to compensation if you are injured in a car accident or suffer trauma due to one. In many cases, insurance companies will offer settlements. Unfortunately, these are often insufficient to cover actual damages. If you cannot come to an agreement with the insurance company, you may have to seek damages through the court system.
It's Your Choice Whether or Not To Go to Court
Friends, family, and the others involved in your accident can advise you one way or the other, but ultimately, you must make the decision on whether or not you will go to court. There are very few instances where you must appear in court after an auto accident, most of which are related to criminal charges rather than compensation for your damages.
Even when you file a lawsuit after a car accident, you may not end up in a courtroom. Instead, many insurance carriers will agree to a settlement once the case is filed. The legal action serves as the impetus for an insurance company to take your claims seriously and motivates them to take negotiations seriously.
Reasons You Might Go to Court After an Auto Accident
While it may not be your first choice, there are several reasons you might go to court after a car accident. However, if you decide that court is the best approach, having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney is crucial.
You Receive a Summons
Most court appearances after an auto accident are by choice, but you might also receive a summons to appear. For example, this could happen if the other driver is facing charges or fighting a traffic violation related to the accident, and you are called as a witness. The other driver may also dispute fault for the accident, which can complicate claims and result in a court appearance.
To Seek Compensation for Damages
While most insurance companies prefer to settle out of court, there are times when an agreement cannot be reached. You may need to take the case to court to ask for appropriate compensation in these situations.
If you are going to court to pursue compensation for damages, you must know what is and is not allowed. Then, after evaluating your case, an experienced injury attorney like the Johnson Attorneys Group team can help you determine how much compensation you deserve.
The Other Driver Did Not Have the Required Insurance
Unfortunately, not all drivers are serious about their responsibility to maintain minimum insurance coverage. Therefore, if you are in an accident and the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured, you may need to seek the remainder of your damages through legal means.
It is important to remember that, in many cases where a driver does not have insurance, he will also not have the means to pay for those damages. However, going to court may hold him accountable for his actions.
Tips for Avoiding an Auto Accident Court Case
We can't guarantee that your case won't end up in court; however, there are specific steps you can take to make a settlement more likely.
Evidence gathering is a big part of proving your injury claims, so you'll want to be careful to accurately and thoroughly document everything related to the accident, including the following:
- File a police report — This is a crucial first step after a car accident. It will serve as a record of when, where, and how the accident occurred. It also ensures that personal information is correct. Finally, filing a police report allows you to state any injuries that appear immediately after the accident.
- Get copies of reports, records, and receipts — Save every receipt, report, and record you receive if it is related to the accident, even if they seem inconsequential. This includes doctor's notes, the police report, and small items like parking receipts for medical appointments. It will take extra work, but the results are usually worth the effort. In addition, the more documentation you have, the easier it will be to outline and support your claims.
- Take notes or record conversations — There are times when you will need to be able to prove verbal interactions. For example, an insurer or other party may claim you agreed to something when you did not. The easiest way to do this is by recording them; however, California laws require consent from every party of a conversation before recording can start. If that isn't possible, you can take detailed notes, being sure to take down the date and time of the exchange and the name and ID number of those you spoke with.
Hire an Attorney
Attorneys aren't just for individuals who plan to file a legal claim. Instead, they work from the beginning of an accident case to ensure you get the care and compensation required for healing. So, while you do not technically need to hire an attorney after a car accident, it is generally a prudent move.
Experienced injury attorneys like James Johnson work on your behalf to get the compensation you deserve. They handle aspects of your case that require experience and insider knowledge of legal proceedings. Here are just a few of the things you can expect an injury attorney to take on:
- Developing an accurate estimate of the damages sustained from the accident
- Negotiating a favorable settlement with insurance providers
- Gathering evidence about the accident
- Proving the negligence of other parties, if applicable
- Providing representation in the courtroom or arbitration proceedings
If you are considering hiring an attorney but are concerned about the cost, Johnson Attorney Group offers a free case evaluation to each client. Additionally, the Johnson Attorney Group team will only collect a fee if they win or favorably settle your case.
Limit Communication With Insurance Companies
The truth is that insurance companies are businesses, and they are most concerned with their own bottom lines. This is true even when you are dealing with your personal insurance company. For example, they may argue that parts of your claims are unrelated to an accident or even deny the entire claim outright. In other situations, they may try to get you to corner you in agreements that limit your rights to seek compensation in the future.
The easiest way to avoid this type of trickery is to limit your direct contact with the insurance companies involved and any of their representatives. Direct all calls to the law office if you have hired an attorney. This not only takes you out of the equation but also shows the insurer that you have hired legal counsel.
Put Experience on Your Side in a Car Accident Injury Case
You could be entitled to compensation if you were injured in an auto accident. The team at Johnson Attorney Group will work with you to investigate the accident, support your claims, and negotiate a favorable settlement from insurance companies and other drivers. They can also represent you if the case goes to court. Contact us at 1-800-208-3538 for more information and to schedule your free, no-obligation case review.