Do You Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

 As stressful as having a car accident in Chicago might be, it doesn’t end when the glass is swept up and the automobile is towed away. There are damages to consider, which can go beyond repairing your vehicle. Some injuries might be solved with a quick trip to the emergency room, but even that can cost a significant amount, especially if an ambulance ride was involved.

What if the injury demands long term care and you can’t go back to work because of the accident? Where will all this money to pay your bills come from?

Filing a personal injury claim against all at-fault drivers can help you recover these losses and more. But the idea of filing a claim may stress some people out, particularly when it could involve showing up in court. No matter how daunting that may seem, it is a far better option than being put in debt or unable to pay for the medical care you need.

You owe it to yourself and your family to do whatever’s necessary to seek compensation for your losses, even if it won’t always be easy. Whether it’s the other driver, the entity responsible for keeping the road safe, or even your insurance provider, whoever you’re going against does not want to pay you what you deserve.

Our Langdon & Emison car accident lawyers in Chicago know this. We’ll use all of our resources to get you the compensation you need to get on with life, either through an out-of-court settlement or by wading into litigation. Most cases like yours can be resolved easily, but legal action may need to be taken if a reasonable settlement agreement can’t be reached.

Call us at (866) 931-2115 or contact us online to set up a risk-free consultation today.

Do I have to go to court?

If you’ve been in an accident in Chicago, the most likely outcome is a settlement between you and the appropriate insurance company.

Even if you get legal representation involved, the typical goal is to maximize the potential payout by working through the insurance system. Most law firms, ours included, would rather settle a personal injury case out of court if at all possible. It’s less stress, less time eaten up, more money in your pocket, and generally a more pleasant experience all around.

However, the reality of the situation is that sometimes there’s no avoiding court. It usually boils down to one of these two reasons:

The Insurance Company Refuses to Pay Out

It could be either your own insurance company or the other party’s. The fact is an insurance company does not want to pay out on a claim because it cuts into their profit margin. They will often “lowball” an estimate for compensation that doesn’t cover near what’s necessary. They will actively look for reasons to reduce your claim’s value, such as alleging you were at fault.

They’re professionals, and it’s hard to get them to budge once they’ve set a price. That’s why you need a personal injury lawyer who can read the applicable policy language, document your losses, and work through the insurance system to seek the maximum damages available.

The At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Insurance

Everyone is supposed to have insurance. However, we all know life doesn’t always work that way. Some estimates say that one in eight drivers nationwide doesn’t have insurance. More often than not, they don’t have the assets to afford insurance in the first place, which limits how much they could pay if they were wholly at fault.

You may need to look to other third parties who could be liable for your losses, with help from a Chicago car accident lawyer.

There is a third scenario that occasionally pops up when you’re summoned to court. If you’re in an accident, it’s the law to report the accident to the police. As soon as you make your statement to the responding officer, you become a witness to the accident. The other party could decide to sue their insurance company or deny fault, and you might receive a summons to appear in court to bear witness to the events that occurred.

It can’t be ignored, but a personal injury lawyer would prove invaluable in that situation.

Steps To Take After the Accident

Your case may result in a settlement, but be prepared to go to court for your car accident just in case.

Most insurance companies would rather settle out of court for the same reasons you would. In many cases, if they see you’re prepared, they’ll agree to an out-of-court settlement to avoid having to pay out more through a verdict.

Before a case goes to court, there’s a fairly common timeline of events you and your personal injury lawyer will follow. This includes interviewing witnesses, consulting experts, and reviewing records, all of which happens before a claim is filed.

Most law firms (Langdon & Emison being one of them) won’t even agree to take a case unless they’re sure they can get their clients a better payout than the client could get on their own.

If no insurance settlement can be reached, then you and your attorney may decide to escalate the matter to a lawsuit.

Once the suit is filed, the “discovery phase” begins. Each party investigates the other side’s claims and defenses. This includes requesting documents, interviewing the relevant parties, and sending each other “interrogatories,” or questions.

This initial process can last several months to a year, depending on the complexity of the case. At some time during this process, mediation can occur and negotiations will continue. If negotiations fail, going to court is almost certain. However, during the proceedings, even after a trial date is set, the at-fault party could decide to cut their losses and settle out of court.

You can help increase the chances that your case will result in a speedier settlement by taking a few steps:

  • Report the accident to the police. This is not only the law, but it also helps secure paperwork that will be needed in a suit.

  • Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, damages to your vehicle, everything you can. The more you document, the easier it will be down the line.

  • Interview witnesses, the other driver, any passengers, etc. Smartphones can provide a handy voice or video recorder. If they’re willing to talk, record their impressions of the accident.

  • See a medical professional immediately. A small ache in your back could be an indication of something like a spinal injury that’s only going to get worse.

  • Keep track of all vehicle repair bills, medical bills, and other expenses as well as noting any damage to your automobile or your body. Both your doctor and your mechanic will have records, and these will be invaluable in case of trial.

  • Do not admit fault or blame. Not to the police, not to the other driver, not even to your own insurance investigator. Keep your statements short and factual. Never assume or try to guess what the other driver was doing unless you can document it.

Give a Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago a Call

Despite your best efforts, going to trial is sometimes unavoidable.

Langdon & Emison Attorneys At Law have over 30 years of experience working personal injury cases in Chicago. We’re dedicated to getting our clients the best chances of full compensation possible.

Call us today at (866) 931-2115 to set up a no-risk consultation. No one wants to go to court for a car accident, but if you have to, you’ll want our attorneys and staff working their hardest to help – so you can get on with your life.