Most car accident personal injury claims settle before going to trial in court, but not all do. A car accident case may go to trial if the parties, including the involved insurance company cannot agree to settle a claim. This can happen if there is a dispute as to liability, meaning who is at fault for the accident or on the issue of damages, how much money the claimant/plaintiff should be compensated for their injuries sustained.
Who’s On Your Side?
Sadly, but not surprisingly, insurance companies want to settle for as little as possible. Hence the importance of hiring a competent attorney who knows how to hold the insurance company accountable. Sometimes this means going to trial.
Preparing a claim for trial helps improve the likelihood that your case will settle. Thorough evidence gathering and preparation are necessary to prepare for settlement discussions and if appropriate, filing a lawsuit and then trial. Evidence gathering includes medical records, traffic collision reports, witness statements and lost wages documentation, if applicable.
Jury Trial vs. Bench Trial
If your case goes to trial, you have a right to a jury trial. If you decide to have your case decided by a jury, the jury will be presented with evidence during trial and decide who caused the accident and how much money you should receive from the insurance company, also known as damages. At trial, both you and the defendant will present evidence to persuade the jury.
Your car accident case can also be decided by a judge, this is called a bench trial. The judge can serve as the finder of fact in place of the jury if the plaintiff and defendant both agree to waive the right to trial by jury. Whether to waive a jury is a complex question which should be discussed with your attorney.
Do Your Research
As we noted in the beginning, most lawsuits end up settling before trial. However, you never know if your case will be one of the few to require a full trial. This is why it is so important to find yourself the best attorney who can handle all aspects of a case, from its inception all the way up to trial.