With the burdens of injury, destroyed property, medical costs, lost wages, and everything else that comes in dealing with an auto accident, the last thing you want to worry about is handling an auto accident lawsuit. That is why most people choose to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer to take care of the legal hassles involved in an accident. But after hiring a lawyer, clients can sometimes feel disconnected from their case. It can help to have a general understanding of the steps of an auto accident lawsuit so that you know what to expect and don’t feel left out of the process.
After You Hire an Auto Accident Lawyer
You’ve hired an auto accident lawyer, and now you want to know what comes next with your auto accident case. Generally, after you have hired an auto accident lawyer, the next step will be for your lawyer put together a claim or list of demands based on damages that you incurred due to the accident. The evidence is presented to support these demands. Your lawyer will likely send these demands to the liable party’s insurance provider in the form of an insurance claim. A claim is an explanation of what you believe you are entitled to, with evidence to prove that the insuree is liable for any damages you incurred. If the liable party is uninsured, your lawyer will likely send a demand letter to the liable party’s legal representative. In most auto accident cases, the liable party will be insured and the insurance provider will handle the matter. If they are uninsured, you will communicate directly with the liable party or their legal representative. In the case that the liable party is insured, the claim will be reviewed by an insurance adjuster who can either agree to your demands or, more likely, send a counter-proposal based on their assessment of the accident. If a counter-proposal is sent, the next step is to negotiate until a settlement is reached. This step is pretty self-explanatory. Both parties work together to negotiate an agreed upon settlement amount. Each party can continue to make counter-offers on each other’s proposals. You can either agree upon a final settlement or continue to deny counter-offers. The negotiation process can be drawn out, and there might be multiple counter-offers. If you are unable to reach a final settlement, the next step may be filing a formal lawsuit.
If You File a Lawsuit
Generally, the first step is to file a formal legal complaint to the court and to the liable party. After the complaint has been filed, a hearing date is set. The next step is the discovery process. During discovery, all evidence is shared between both sides and the court. During discovery, you may be asked to be deposed for testimony by the defendant or even by your own attorney. Witnesses and passengers may also be deposed. Depending on the severity of the accident, experts may be brought in for depositions or to give testimony. After discovery, if a pretrial settlement is not reached, you will start hearings. The trial can either be decided by a judge or jury, depending on what option your lawyer feels is likely to benefit you more. During the hearings, the judge or jury will hear arguments from both sides, review all documents and evidence and make a final decision. This final decision is completely up to the jurors or judge who participate in the hearing. If either party is not satisfied with the decision, it can be appealed. If appealed, the trial will be moved to the appellate courts where it will go through another trial process. After discovery, if a pretrial settlement is not reached, you will start hearings. The trial can either be decided by a judge or jury, depending on what option your lawyer feels is likely to benefit you more. During the hearings, the judge or jury will hear arguments from both sides, review all documents and evidence and then come to a final decision. This final decision is completely up to the jurors or judge who participate in the hearing. If either party is not satisfied with the decision, it can be appealed. If appealed, the trial will be moved to the appellate courts where it will go through another trial process. The process of an auto accident lawsuit can be extremely time-consuming and potentially expensive. Trials can take days to weeks. Court costs add up quickly, and while our personal injury team works on contingency, these costs still come out of the final settlement or award. You should consider these factors before deciding whether or not to take a pre-trial settlement.
How Involved Should you be in Your Auto Accident Lawsuit?
That decision is almost entirely up to you. Auto accident attorneys appreciate clients who are helpful and comfortable expressing their concerns. But remember, as your legal representative we have your best interests in mind. One of the biggest advantages of hiring an auto accident lawyer is having a legal expert who is able to look at your situation from an objective view – leaving emotions out of decision-making. With that being said, participation is encouraged. A client’s personal testimony, evidence from the scene, and input on decision making can be very helpful. At TorHoerman Law, we never want to give our clients the impression that their participation is discouraged, and we never want our clients to feel “out-of-the-loop” when it comes to their case. If you ever have these feelings of disconnect, you can feel free to reach out to your attorney and express your concerns. With all the work that goes into an auto accident lawsuit, it is easy to forget to keep clients completely up-to-date with their cases.