Car insurance claims are frequently settled out of court to avoid the high costs of a trial. While auto insurance companies seek to minimize claim payouts, a skilled car accident attorney can often negotiate a fair settlement.
Unfortunately, there are circumstances that may cause negotiations to break down, forcing a car insurance claim to go to court.
Common Reasons that Car Insurance Claims Go to Court
There are several reasons car insurance claims wind up going to court rather than settling. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of both parties to avoid a trial because it is time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.
The most common reasons car insurance claims go to trial include the following:
- The insurance company offers compensation that is far less than your claim is worth.
- The insurance adjuster does not negotiate in good faith to agree on a settlement amount proposed by the injured car accident victim and their attorney.
- There are legal complexities with the case.
- Multiple defendants are involved.
- There are disputes over who was at fault.
In addition, insurance companies may be less likely to settle due to increased claim frequency rates. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, traffic accidents were the second leading cause of death, hospitalizations, and ER visits in the last reporting year. As a result, the collision claim frequency rate jumped to 5.9 for every 100 insured vehicles in the last 3 years.
What Is the Timeline Leading to and During a Car Insurance Claim in Court?
If you and your Atlanta car accident lawyer do not agree with the insurance company on a fair settlement out of court, your case will be filed in court.
Some of the steps involved in a car accident lawsuit in court (and before) include:
- You and your attorney file the case and serve the defendant with the complaint.
- The defendant and their insurance company have a certain amount of time to respond to the complaint.
- The discovery phase unfolds, which is when your attorney will gather evidence and facts, interview witnesses, review police reports and the accident scene, and build your case based on Georgia law and statutes.
- Negotiations ensue when the defendant and their insurance company may offer an out-of-court settlement.
- If the financial compensation that was offered by the defendant to cover your injuries is not acceptable, the trial begins.
- While other settlement offers may be made during the trial, time in the courtroom will be filled with arguments, testimonies, and evidence presented by both parties.
- The final step in the trial, of course, is the verdict issued by the jury and judge, and the financial award you receive at the case’s conclusion.
The Length of a Car Accident Hearing in Court
There is no standard time frame for a car accident hearing in Georgia courts. They could last a few days, weeks, or maybe even stretch into a year or two. Each case is unique and depends on multiple factors that could affect the length of time, including:
- Court procedures, such as the time it takes the defendant to respond to the lawsuit summons and prepare for court
- The number of defendants in the case and the number of witnesses
- The time it takes to conduct discovery
- The court’s location, timeline, and schedule
- The severity of your injuries
- The strength of your case and the defendant’s case
- The assignment of fault
A skilled personal injury attorney will know how to critically assess the details of your case to give an accurate estimate of how long your car accident lawsuit will last in the courtroom.
Common Car Accident Injuries and How They Affect Going to Court
As mentioned, the severity of your injuries could affect whether your lawsuit continues to the courtroom and, once your trial commences, how long it will last. Your injuries could vary, depending on if the accident was a head-on collision, T-bone crash, or rear-end collision, and recovery could mean spending days or weeks in the hospital.
Long-lasting impacts of common injuries are:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions
- Whiplash, neck, or spinal injuries
- Lower back strain
- Internal bleeding or damage to organs
- Broken bones
- Cuts or puncture wounds
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including consistent anxiety
- Wrongful death
What Kind of Financial Compensation Can You Receive from a Car Insurance Claim?
If you were injured in a car accident because of another negligent party, you should not have to pay for all the damages you are now facing and should be entitled to financial compensation. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, you can demand maximum compensation to cover damages in several categories, such as:
These financial costs after the accident can be debilitating, but an Atlanta car accident lawyer can demand that the at-fault party pays for the following:
- Medical and rehabilitation fees, including future medical care expenses
- Lost wages and the loss of any future earning potential because of your injuries
- Property damage
- Ambulatory costs and any necessary adaptive equipment
- Funeral and burial costs, in the case of a wrongful death case
The defendant may also be responsible for damages that do not necessarily carry a price tag but have dramatically worsened your way of life after the accident, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
Although not as common, a defendant may also be ordered to pay for any additional punitive damages they have caused if the judge feels they showcased an especially horrific behavior that caused the car accident. Punitive damages not only punish the guilty defendant but also send a message to future potential wrongdoers that act in the same way.
How a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
In general, accident victims could expect financial settlements that range from thousands of dollars, with severe accidents and fatal car accidents paying out more through settlements of $1 million or more.
Hiring an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer is imperative when you are seeking the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.