Court can be stressful and is often beset with delays. There is also the inherent risk that, despite making the best possible case, a jury will side with the defendant or the verdict will later be appealed. The most optimal scenario for a car accident victim is an out-of-court settlement that fully and fairly compensates the individual. What are the chances that your car accident lawsuit will make it to the courtroom?
What the statistics say about settlement
Although car accidents are common, that doesn’t mean court dockets are filled with personal injury lawsuits. If the insurance companies took every case to court, they’d quickly feel the financial pinch in terms of lawyer fees, unfavorable verdicts, and wasted company resources. The simple fact is that it makes financial sense for the insurance companies to try to settle cases if they can. It’s for that reason that some estimates show that only about 5% of car accident cases make it to court. Moreover, many of these will settle the day of the trial. Few reach a jury verdict.
Of course, the insurance company will be looking to save every penny it can. That means offering unrealistically low settlement amounts in hopes that the accident victim will take the money. Having an attorney represent you is therefore critical to ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Reasons that you might have to go to court
But what about that 5% of car accident cases that do get tried in court? No matter the nature of your injuries, you should understand some of the most common reasons that these lawsuits go to trial. They include:
Unreasonable settlement offers. Remember, the insurance company wants to make your accident claim go away while costing as little as possible. It will even deny your claim entirely if it believes that’s possible. If the insurer will not offer a reasonable settlement amount, it might be worth the delay and stress of a trial. This is especially the case if a large dollar figure is on the line.
The at-fault driver was uninsured. Even though it is illegal to drive a vehicle without liability insurance in Connecticut, many people do. Without an insurance company backing the driver, you will need to sue the driver personally. This is often an uphill battle since uninsured drivers typically don’t have many assets. Nonetheless, talk to an attorney about your legal options, including the use of your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy if you have one.
Dispute over liability. Many car accidents are fairly cut and dry in terms of fault. However, there are cases in which the at-fault driver will attempt to shift liability to the victim. If a jury determines that you shared responsibility for the accident, it may decide to reduce your damages award by whatever percentage of fault it assigns to you. This may make it worth the driver’s or insurance company’s time to go to court. You can still recover as long as you were not more than 50% at fault.
Multiple defendants. Not all automobile wrecks involve just a negligent driver. Sometimes, other parties can share blame for causing accidents. These include:
- Automobile manufacturers
- Parts manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers
- Repair shops and mechanics
- Governmental agencies (e.g. in accidents caused by poor road maintenance)
- Construction contractors (e.g. for not keeping a construction zone safe)
- Bars and other establishments that serve alcohol, if drunk driving was involved
If there are numerous defendants, and they can’t agree beforehand who was actually to blame, the court may have to settle the question of liability.
We Work Hard For Our Connecticut Car Accident Victims
Regardless of whether your car accident case settles or a trial is necessary, our firm is ready to advocate for you. While settlement in the victim’s favor is always preferred, we prepare every case as if a trial could happen. Stanfield Bechtel Law has you covered from the conference room to the courtroom. Find out why so many people trust us to handle their car accident cases. Call our office today.