If you’re being sued for a car accident, you probably want to know if the other party will settle. The short answer? Probably. The long answer is a little more complicated. About 95% of personal injury cases and car accident lawsuits settle before trial. But what all can they take?
Our Shreveport personal injury attorneys here at Gordon & Gordon Law Firm are very familiar with car accident cases and lawsuits. In fact, car accident claims in Louisiana are the main focus of our firm. In this post, our top Louisiana car accident lawyers will cover car accidents lawsuits and what all the injured party can take from the liable party. We’ll also talk about the difference between a car accident settlement and a judgment in court as well as other issues surrounding car accident cases.
If you have any more questions regarding your car accident lawsuit or if you seek legal advice regarding the accident, call Gordon & Gordon at 318-716-HELP today.
What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?
If you are getting sued for a car accident, it means that the other driver believes you are at fault for the accident. If you accept fault for this accident, it is in your best interest to settle the claim outside of court. If you do not believe you were responsible for the accident and want to fight these allegations, you may be inclined to take the case to court and fight for your innocence.
Regardless of what happens, if you are found to be responsible for the accident, you will need to compensate the victim for any damages they may have sustained. However, if you have liability insurance (and you should), the money won’t be coming straight from your own pockets. This is what insurance companies are for. Your insurer will be responsible for compensating the injured person for any damages that resulted from the car wreck you caused. However, if the car accident claim exceeds your insurance coverage policy limits, you’re not quite off the hook just yet. For claims that go above your policy limits, you can expect your premiums to increase by a certain percentage.
Being Sued in a Car Accident: What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and A Judgment?
When a car accident lawsuit takes place, there are a few ways it may progress. Most often, the case is settled out of court. This is the preferred route by most people, should they accept personal liability. In some instances though, the case may make it all the way to trial. As such, the most obvious difference is that one happens in court (settlement) while one happens outside of court (judgment). To understand why settlements are preferable in the majority of cases, it’s important to understand how the decision-making process is different in each case.
Say you are the one being sued in a car accident. That makes you the defendant.
The first thing that will happen is that the plaintiff’s attorneys will file a claim with your car insurance company. They will give your insurance company all the information and evidence they have that proves their client sustained an injury and that your negligence and recklessness caused it. This includes eyewitness testimony, police records, and medical records.
From there, your insurance company and the plaintiff’s attorneys will begin negotiations. If your insurance company believes the evidence is compelling enough, they will probably try to settle early. This is because if your case goes to trial, a judge will most likely award a verdict larger than the amount of a settlement to the plaintiff.
If the evidence is weak or uncertain, your insurance company might return with a lower number. This will continue until the number satisfies both parties. If the two cannot reach an agreement, that is when the car accident case will go to trial.
Here’s where things can get sticky for one party or another. In a trial, your insurance company and/or personal attorneys, as well as the plaintiff’s attorneys, will present their evidence and arguments. After the arguments are made, the judge will then decide the appropriate amount of car accident damages sustained and who will receive compensation for those damages. Once the judge makes their decision, you can’t negotiate it or belatedly accept an earlier offer. So, in many cases, when you’re being sued in a car accident, settling is typically better all around.
What Happens if Someone Sues You After a Car Accident?
If you are at fault in a car accident and are being met with a lawsuit, you probably won’t have to pay out of pocket. Depending on your insurance policy limits and the liability coverage you possess, your insurer will most likely cover the damages. For this reason, it’s in your insurance company’s best interest to settle a case quickly, and they may push hard for a settlement to be reached.
If you are the plaintiff in a case, a settlement is also probably in your best interest, as well. However, always make sure you consult with your Shreveport car accident attorney before you accept any settlement offer.
Why is it Better to Settle?
Settling your car accident claim is often preferable to going to trial for everyone involved. This mostly applies to an insurance company, but the plaintiff’s attorney will probably want to avoid a trial as well. That’s because attorneys and insurers want to avoid the unpredictability of a trial.
Anything can happen in a trial. To avoid an unexpected result and to reduce their own risks, both plaintiffs and defendants will look to settle a lawsuit. Even if neither party gets exactly what they want, there’s a degree of certainty that comes with a car accident settlement. The plaintiff avoids the possibility of getting nothing at all, and the defendant can avoid a verdict that is significantly higher than what it likely would take to settle. Both of these things can happen in trials, and there is no mitigating it or negotiating it once the verdict has been made.
Additionally, in most car accident cases, both sides likely want to save money by avoiding trial. It should come as no surprise that litigation is expensive. When a case drags on for years and years, the costs will start to pile up. There are depositions to attend, expert witnesses to hire, investigations to conduct, and a number of other duties for a car accident lawyer to perform.
The price tag can easily reach five figures before the trial even starts and will most likely double just for the trial itself. Both sides will incur these costs and would probably like to avoid as many of them as possible. An early settlement helps accomplish this. All in all, when you’re being sued in a car accident, you likely want to get on with your life, plaintiffs want to move on from their injury, and insurance companies want to close claims. Settling a case achieves this closure much quicker than going to trial.
How Long Does it Take to Reach a Settlement?
Ten times out of ten, the plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit wants to get their payment as quickly as possible. After all, money now is worth more than money later. Additionally, plaintiffs probably have expenses to cover. These may include things like medical bills, property damage, attorneys fees, and lost wages. The longer it takes a case to resolve, the deeper in debt the plaintiff may get.
It is always better to settle because when an insurance company agrees to an amount, they will pay it out quickly. If you receive a judgment in court, there is no guarantee of collection.
This is because if the amount the judge awards you exceeds the defendant’s liability policy, the defendant is responsible for the overage. There is no guarantee the defendant can pay this out-of-pocket. The best way to get paid quickly is to settle.
If you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney in Shreveport, Bossier City, or Mansfield, Louisiana, call Gordon & Gordon at 318-716-HELP today. You can also leave us a message on our website.