Do I Have To Go To Court To Settle My Car Accident Claim?

Car accident victims have one common question, “Do I have to go to court to settle my car accident claim?” There’s no clear answer to this question because it all depends on the terms and facts of each case. Most car accident cases do not go to trial. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that only about 3% of personal injury cases go to court.

This is also a reality in Rochester, NY, where there were a total of 31 fatal accidents recorded in 2021 alone. This was basically double that of the recorded fatalities in the prior year–a disturbing stat, but not one that should be impossible to deal with for current or even potential car accident victims. Getting compensation for such an accident is almost impossible if not taken to court. And when the matter ends up in court, only a seasoned Rochester car accident lawyer can give you the best shot at winning.

Here’s how a lawyer can help you settle your claim, especially during specific situations: 

Reasons You Might Have To Go To Court To Settle Your Car Accident Claim

Going to court for a personal injury claim is usually reserved when you and the other driver cannot agree on various issues. You might end up taking your case to trial for the following reasons:

Liability is Disputed

You may have a disputed claim if the other driver does not agree that they caused your accident and injuries. Disputes around fault increase the chance of a car accident case going to court since settlement relies upon the parties involved agreeing with each other.

Insurance settlement negotiations are often successful when both sides communicate, compromise, and agree to an amount that puts the case to rest. If both sides cannot agree on who caused the car accident, the case may end up in trial. A judge or jury will hear arguments from both sides and determine fault based on the evidence presented.

The Insurance Company Doesn’t Want to Settle

One of the key reasons why a car accident case would go to court is to obtain a fair settlement. The defendant’s insurance company may undervalue a plaintiff’s losses to limit its financial liability and save money. In some cases, the defendant may blame the claimant for having contributed to the accident so they can reduce the amount of compensation the plaintiff deserves.

If the insurance carrier doesn’t budge during settlement negotiations, you may have to fight for fair compensation in court. Taking your case to trial can be lengthy, but if a significant settlement is at stake, it’s often worth it. This is most common in car accident cases involving catastrophic or disabling injuries.

The At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Insurance

While driving on the road without insurance is illegal, there’s a disturbing amount of people operating their vehicles on the road without insurance or inadequate insurance coverage. If you’re involved in a car accident with one of these drivers, you might take them to court for compensation for your injuries and damages.

When dealing with an uninsured or underinsured driver, however, don’t get too much of your hopes up. Drivers who cannot afford coverage usually don’t have money or assets to draw on. So, the chances of recovering damages are going to be very slim.

Your car accident lawyer can run an assets and credit check to reveal the driver’s financial status. If the driver has assets, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit.

How To Avoid Going To Court To Settle Your Car Accident Claim

The steps you take immediately after a car accident can improve your chances of settling without going to trial. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Report the accident to law enforcement
  • Take photos or videos of the accident scene, your vehicle, and your injuries after the crash
  • Get immediate medical treatment
  • Do not apologize, accept fault, or blame the other driver
  • Only give the other driver’s insurance carrier any statements with proper legal guidance
  • Keep track of all damages
  • Consult with a Rochester car accident attorney as soon as you can

A strong case from the get-go increases the chance of receiving a fair settlement offer from the insurance company.

Bottom Line

While thousands of car accident cases are filed yearly in the U.S., only a small percentage of these claims go to court. Most plaintiffs and defendants prefer to avoid a trial’s costs and liability risks by agreeing to an out-of-court settlement. However, you may have to take your case to court if the at-fault party disputes fault, the defendant disagrees about the claim’s value, or the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement. That’s the only way to ensure you get what you’re owed. 

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.

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