Most car accident claims are settled out of court. But in some circumstances, the case hits a wall. There may be a dispute concerning who was at fault or the amount of damages that should be paid by the insurance company. When that happens, it could turn into a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Hiring an Attorney for a Car Accident Lawsuit
The process of pursuing a lawsuit is generally much longer and more complicated than it is to settle a claim with an insurance company. In some cases, especially when damages are not significant and injuries are not serious, legal counsel may not be required when pursuing an insurance claim.
But if it goes to a lawsuit, it will be important to secure help from a qualified attorney. So hiring legal representation is the first stage if an attorney isn’t already helping negotiate the insurance settlement.
The typical first meeting involves:
- discussing the case;
- reviewing evidence;
- going over strengths and weaknesses; and
- making a final determination as to whether the claimant should pursue a lawsuit.
Filing the Initial Court Papers to Bring the Lawsuit
The second stage of a car accident lawsuit is filing the initial court papers. A petition or complaint addresses the plaintiff’s claims and provides a basic outline of what the case is about. It will also include the types/amount of damages being sought.
A summons is also issued, which basically informs the defendant of the suit. It requires the defendant to reply within a certain time period. Failing to do so could result in a decision without any input from that party.
Typically the reply given to the summons is a denial or admittance. There may be a counterclaim filed if the other party believes the plaintiff was at fault for the accident. Then a reply to that counterclaim must be given. If there are other parties involved (such as in a multi-vehicle accident) there could be cross-claims and replies to those.
Discovery Process of a Car Accident Lawsuit
Eventually the discovery process will begin. Both sides must be provided with any fact or documentation that is relevant to the case, this is when additional information is gathered through:
- interrogatories (questions regarding one’s version of the events);
- document production (ability to see any documents related to the case); and
- depositions (sworn statements by both sides).
Filing Motions and Proceeding to Court
A motion may then be filed. At this point the entire lawsuit may be resolved. It could happen when the case is dismissed (for instance, because of insufficient evidence), or a ruling could be made either in favor or against the plaintiff. There are numerous other possibilities that may arise, depending on the circumstances of the case.
If the case has not been settled at this point, the last stage is for it to go to trial. Of course, throughout the lawsuit process, attorneys may continue to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement is reached prior to a trial date, the two sides will not have to go to court.
Contact Cordisco & Saile LLC
It’s important when securing legal representation to have the help of a lawyer who is familiar not only with car accident cases but litigation. Cordisco & Saile LLC can assist with the initial claims process as well as the car accident lawsuit if one is necessary to resolve the case.