Getting behind the wheel of a car is always dangerous. In 2018, the U.S. saw a total of 2,710,000 personal injuries in motor vehicle accidents. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, filing a claim against the at-fault party will help you recover money for lost wages, medical costs, and other financial burdens.
Most plaintiffs negotiate or settle their car accident cases with an insurance company. While this can save time and money when compared to the car accident court process, a trial is still necessary in some instances. Below, our team at Folger Law Firm walks you through essential information you’ll need to know before taking your case to trial.
Do You Need to File a Lawsuit?
If lawyers and adjusters can’t resolve a dispute between the parties through negotiation—or if the insurance company doesn’t respond to your demand letter—deciding your car accident case in court is necessary. However, these cases tend to be the exception because most lawyers and insurance adjusters understand how much a particular case may be valued and, therefore, can resolve it out of court.
Informal negotiations allow parties to agree on a settlement while avoiding expensive court costs. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of moving on to a trial. Can you accept a slightly smaller payout, or is the extra cost worth the attempt to recover more money for your financial losses and personal injuries?
What Are the Benefits of Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer?
While you can file a claim without a lawyer, hiring one is in your best interest. A skilled attorney knows the ins and outs of the car accident court process and can help you recover more money than you’re likely to obtain on your own. At Folger Law Firm, we offer free consultations—and we only get paid if you do. We will do everything in our power to help you win the case and get your life back on track.
How Do You File a Car Accident Claim?
If you plan to take your case to court, you’ll need to take the appropriate actions. First, your lawyer will need to file a formal complaint, which identifies all involved parties, your legal claims and demands, and the court’s legal jurisdiction over the case. Once the legal complaint is on file, it must be served on the defendant. Under Arizona law, the defendant then has 20 days to file a response.
Once the defendant files an answer, the case moves to the discovery phase and the parties start requesting information from the other party through depositions, interrogatories, or document production.
How Does a Trial Work for the Car Accident Court Process?
After you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in your accident, it becomes a jury’s job to determine whether the driver is liable for your financial losses. To have the jury rule in your favor, you’ll need to present persuasive evidence and convincing testimony. Hiring an attorney will give you the best chances of success.
The typical car accident court process moves through the following steps as both parties share their side of the story:
- Jury selection – Also known as voir dire, this step is crucial because it is the jury that decides the case’s outcome. Juries are chosen only after the attorneys and judge asks questions to eliminate anyone with potential bias or prejudice that might affect their ability to be partial and independent.
- Parties make their opening statements – Once the jury is seated, both parties’ legal representatives make an opening statement. In this statement, your lawyer will present the anticipated evidence of the case and explain why the other party should be held liable.
- Presentation of evidence – Evidence presentation occurs not only through documents but also witnesses. Any witnesses called will have to answer questions from both legal teams.
- Parties give their closing statements – Once all evidence is available to the jury, your lawyer (and that of the opposing party) will make a final argument to convince the jury to rule in their favor.
- Judge instructs the jury – Once the judge and jury have heard all arguments, the judge instructs the jury on all applicable laws and responsibilities before it leaves to make its decision.
- Jury deliberates and makes its verdict – The jury is dismissed to a separate room to deliberate on the case and make a decision. This stage can take anywhere between several hours and several days for most cases, though there is no time limit.
How Do You Get Started?
Before filing a lawsuit, it’s always a good idea to discuss your legal options with an attorney. Personal injury cases are subject to statute-of-limitations laws, and building a viable case takes time, skill and experience.
Protect your interests by calling us at (602) 932-0552 today to speak to a member of our Folger Law Firm legal team.