You’ve been in a car accident in Evansville and now you have to pay for repairs for something you didn’t cause. You’ve heard that you should hire an attorney to get the best shot at fair compensation, but doesn’t that mean you have to go to court?
Hiring an attorney doesn’t automatically mean you’ll go to court. In fact, most insurance companies will propose a fair settlement long before going to trial, as long as you build a strong case and represent yourself with an Evansville car accident attorney.
There are always exceptions to these normally smooth circumstances, however, and some settlement negotiations become deadlocked and can only be resolved with a lawsuit. Two common scenarios that lead to court are:
- The at-fault insurance adjuster cannot approve the amount you ask for in damages
- You and your attorney do not believe the settlements the insurance company offers are fair and reasonable
In personal injury claims, neither side really wants to go to court. This process is expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved. This is why insurance companies offer car accident claim settlements before having to go to trial and why most cases can be settled outside of court.
What Happens in Court?
Indiana car accident lawsuits are decided by a jury, rather than a judge.
Court proceedings begin with both parties’ opening statement. After this, the plaintiff (you or your attorney) would begin calling witnesses to testify on your behalf. This could include accident witnesses from the scene, your personal testimony, and expert accounts of your injuries. Doctors are often powerful allies in court, as their medical expertise and detailed record of your treatment plan can prove your injuries were both severe and a direct result of the accident.
Then, the defendant (the insurance company or at-fault driver) would call his or her own witnesses. Their account of the accident may differ from your witnesses’, and the medical professionals who testify against you may disagree with your doctor’s diagnosis.
Once both sides have presented their evidence, the jury will deliberate and award damages based on their interpretation of the case.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney If I Don’t Want to Go to Court?
The extent of your injuries — and therefore your claim — may not be obvious right after your accident. Whether car-related expenses or medical ones end up higher than expected, taking the insurance company’s first offer can leave you short even if it sounds generous at the time.
Local Evansville car accident attorneys are extremely valuable resources during this time because they evaluate your situation and the insurance company’s settlement offer to see if you deserve more. More than just informing you about your options, a car accident attorney can help you gather relevant information for a strong case that will hold up in court, should your claim ever reach trial.
- Handle all communication with the insurance company
- Obtain evidence that proves liability
- Organize relevant bills and medical records
Of course, lawyers become even more helpful in court, as they can:
- Gather and present evidence from witnesses, records, and reports
- Research case law
- Draft and submit pleadings and motions
- Prepare witnesses
The final advantage of hiring an Evansville attorney to represent your car accident claim is that it’s a final incentive for the insurance company to meet the demands of your claim. If they know you’ve hired a lawyer who’s preparing a trial case, they’ll know you’re ready and willing to go to trial if necessary, and they may offer more reasonable settlements to avoid that possibility.
Are Trials the Only Way to Ensure I Get What I Deserve?
Simply put, no. A good lawyer can help you reach a fair settlement long before court becomes the necessary next step. Without one, you may not be able to argue strongly for compensation for the following expenses:
- Medical treatments and transportation to and from appointments
- Pain and suffering
- Lost work time
- Lost business or career
- Cost of a rental car
- Cost of repairing or purchasing a new car
The right attorney will get to know both you and your case, fighting for your rights all the way to court, if necessary.
You’ll also never be forced to take your case to trial, even if you hire an attorney. Your lawyer cannot accept or reject a settlement offer on your behalf without your consent. Your attorney may advise you that a trial could result in a higher award than the final settlement offer, but they cannot force you either to go to court or accept a settlement.
However, you may have to file a lawsuit if you want your case to remain open. The statute of limitations on a typical Indiana car accident case is two years from the date of the accident. In order to keep the case open past that date, your attorney will have to file a lawsuit and prepare for trial. Negotiations can continue during the time between filing the lawsuit and going to trial, but your case will close if you don’t allow your attorney to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out on your case.
Help from an Evansville Car Accident Lawyer
Hensley Legal Group’s Evansville car accident lawyers are experts in Indiana state law and are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.