If you’ve been injured in a car accident in California, you may be entitled to financial compensation – but should you file a car accident lawsuit? For some people, filing a lawsuit is the best option. Here’s what to know if you’ve been hurt during a car crash.
The Main Reason to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in California
Generally, when a person is injured in a car crash anywhere in California (or in another state), they attempt – usually with the help of a personal injury attorney – to negotiate a settlement with the other party’s insurance company.
But the insurance company’s main purpose is to avoid a huge payout, even if it’s what the other party deserves. In fact, some insurance companies will try to avoid even small payouts – and that’s true even if you have medical bills and receipts for care that you’ve had to pay for out of your own pocket.
It is possible to negotiate a fair settlement with an insurance company. However, if that’s not happening in your case, your attorney will most likely suggest that you file a formal lawsuit.
What About the Negotiation Process?
Your attorney will try to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company. He or she will explain how much your medical care costs and discuss the wages you’ve lost due to the car accident, as well as other losses you’ve suffered.
Usually, the insurance company will come back with an offer. The offer may be very low – lower than what you owe for medical care, even – but it might be fair. Your attorney will present you with the offer and it’s up to you whether to accept it. If you choose not to accept it, your attorney will continue negotiations.
In some cases, negotiations break down. If your attorney believes that you’ll get a much larger amount by going to court than you will from the insurance company’s settlement, but the insurance company won’t budge, he or she will likely suggest that you file a lawsuit.
What Happens After You File a Lawsuit?
After you file a lawsuit, the discovery phase begins. During this part of the suit, both parties (your side and the insurance company) put together evidence. Both sides have a chance to build up enough factual information to defend their own positions in court.
Sometimes mediation is an option after discovery. Mediation is when the two parties come together and try once again to reach an agreement. Sometimes insurance companies realize that if they were to go to court, they’d lose – and they’re often afraid that a judge would order them to pay a much higher amount than they’d have to pay if they simply agreed to settle with you.
If you cannot solve the case through mediation, your car accident lawsuit will end up going before a judge. The judge in your case will hear evidence presented by both sides – yours and the insurance company. The insurance company will most likely try to make it look like you are at least partially at fault for the accident (and as a result, at fault for your own injuries). They do this because if you’re partly to blame, they can pay you less money than they would if their client was completely to blame for what happened.
The judge in your case will eventually issue a ruling. The ruling will include a dollar amount that the other party’s insurance company is supposed to pay you. The amount may be more or less than what you and your attorney expected to receive. You also need to know that the other party’s insurance company may have the right to appeal the judge’s decision, and that it may be quite some time before you receive your money. Your attorney will give you the guidance you need every step of the way.
Do You Need to Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s a good idea to have a free consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to set up a time to speak with a compassionate, caring and knowledgeable lawyer now.