Following a serious car accident, you might envision your case being decided in court, where in reality, most car accident cases are settled out of court. When in your initial consultation with a prospective car accident lawyer, you should not interpret an eagerness to settle out of court as a sign of weakness. A lawyer will still push hard for proper compensation during negotiations, and if a fair offer cannot be arrived at, most experienced car accident lawyers will be equipped to take your case all the way through the court system if necessary.
No One Is Eager to Go to Court
Accident victims and insurance companies both have motivations for avoiding court. As car accident lawyers often have to explain, filing a lawsuit is not usually automatic at the first sign of resistance. In fact, your best interests as an injured claimant are often best served by staying out of court.
Top Reasons to Settle Your Car Accident Claim Out of Court
1. Court is unpredictable – A civil court trial puts your case before a jury. A lawyer defending the insurance company will get to pick apart your testimony and the testimony of witnesses. Juries can have their sympathies swayed in a number of ways. Even if your evidence is sound, wild card factors could flare up in court and jeopardize your chance of collecting compensation.
2. Court is time-consuming – Years could pass before your trial actually starts. Crowded court schedules delay the scheduling of hearings and the trial. The discovery period when both sides examine evidence takes time before a trial can commence. You and other people will have to complete formal depositions. As this slow process grinds forward, you’re still waiting on money for medical bills, lost earnings, damage to property, etc.
3. A court case is costly – Car accident lawyers have to expend much more labor when taking cases to court. They need to analyze evidence and prepare a strategy. They may need to consult with and retain expert witnesses to support your case. On top of all of this effort, the court charges fees for everything.
4. Court is public – Civil trial records are not private in North Carolina. Members of the public may access records. This issue may deter some people who do not want to share sensitive information about themselves in a public venue.
Benefits of Out-of-Court Settlements
Negotiating a settlement out of court is a process that will move along at a far quicker pace than a trial. As a result, you get your money faster and pay fewer legal fees.
Car accident lawyers are still able to negotiate aggressively because they leverage the threat of going to court. You have this right, and the insurer would face the same unpredictability and expense of going to court as you. When confronted by evidence of your financial need, an insurer is likely to take the safer route of negotiating an acceptable dollar figure, which is generally capped anyway under policy limits.
Sometimes Court Is Necessary
Occasionally, civil trials are necessary when people have significant losses and need a jury award to force payment. Sometimes fault for the car crash is so disputed that it can only be resolved in court.
The need to file a lawsuit is not always apparent in the early stages. This is why car accident lawyers urge people to consult them as soon as possible after getting hurt. You don’t want to miss your chance to go to court due to exceeding the statute of limitations, nor do you want to settle directly with insurers when they fail to make a reasonable offer of compensation.