Car, truck, and other motor vehicle accident cases can be resolved in various ways. You can settle with the at-fault party’s insurance company or take the matter to trial. Understandably, following an accident, you’re concerned with receiving just compensation to cover damages you sustained. Thus, you might be thinking about going to court because you believe it will yield a greater financial recovery.
Although the judgment you obtain at trial may be more than a settlement with the insurance company, higher compensation isn’t guaranteed. The legal system is unpredictable. A judge or jury might interpret the facts differently from you, or they might even consider you partially at fault, reducing your award. On the other hand, settling gives you more control and is often less stressful than going to court.
If you are trying to decide which path your case should take, talk to a personal injury attorney. They can help you make informed decisions.
What It Means to Take Your Accident Case to Trial
Taking your case to trial means that you want the legal system to decide the outcome. Generally, you will go this route if disputes between you and the other party are unresolvable and you are unable to settle through negotiations.
At court, you present your case before a judge or jury. You must establish your arguments and communicate them clearly. You must also offer evidence to back your claims.
The defendant (the person you are suing) also has a chance to present their side of the story. They may provide counterarguments to refute your assertions. They may even submit evidence in an attempt to demonstrate that you were at least partially liable for the accident.
How the Award Amount Is Decided
The judge or jury will weigh the information you and the defendant presented at trial. They will determine whether the other party was responsible for the accident, whether you should be compensated for damages, and what amount you should receive.
The judgment awarded can be higher at trial because the judge or jury may sympathize with you. They may also give greater weight to things such as pain/suffering or emotional distress. Additionally, they are not concerned with protecting the insurance company’s bottom line but with acting in a fair and just way.
Still, the compensation amount determined at trial could be lower than that offered in a settlement. Various factors could contribute to this. For instance, the judge or jury might decide that witnesses you call lack credibility, or the judge may have deemed evidence inadmissible. You may also be considered partially at fault. In a modified comparative negligence state like Oklahoma, if a person is found to have played a role in causing the accident, their compensation may be reduced by the percentage of their fault.
Most Accident Cases Are Settled Out of Court
Although taking your matter to trial is an option, most cases don’t go this route. The majority are resolved through negotiations with the insurance company. Sometimes a settlement is agreed on before the case is even considered for trial. Other times, it is set a few days before the matter is supposed to be heard in court.
Settling does not necessarily mean you are getting less money than you would have had you gone to court. When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case, they can work to protect your best interests and seek a just compensation amount through negotiations.
Additionally, settling your case with the insurance company is often quicker, less costly, and less stressful than going to court. You also have more control over the outcome because you play an active role in what happens instead of leaving things in the hands of a judge or jury.
An Attorney Can Help Make Informed Decisions
Deciding how to handle your motor vehicle accident case can be daunting and overwhelming. You want to pursue an option to allow you to get the financial support you need to make you whole, but there’s a lot to consider with each path.
A lawyer familiar with personal injury processes and laws can guide you through your case, answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide the in-depth legal insight you need.
At the Law Offices of Keith J. Nedwick, P.C., our Norman team is prepared to protect your rights and future. Speak with an attorney by calling us at (866) 590-8173 or contacting us online.