Many accident victims are wary of filing legal claims because they are afraid they will have to go to court. They may settle a claim with the insurance company for far less than it is worth and they may avoid speaking with an attorney because they do not want to deal with the headache of the court system. However, in the vast majority of accident cases—including motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and others—the parties never have to step foot in a courtroom. And, when you hire an experienced accident attorney, you do not increase your odds of going to court. In fact, you may reduce them!
To ensure your legal rights are thoroughly protected throughout your accident claim, you should hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Once you have hired an attorney, your attorney is able to deal with the insurance company on your behalf. The insurance company for the at-fault driver will likely begin calling you within days of the accident, pressuring you to settle the claim for a nominal amount of money.
As you undergo medical treatment for your injuries, you will provide these medical records and bills to your attorney. If you are pursuing other types of damages, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, or emotional distress, your attorney will obtain evidence of these claims as well. Your attorney will present these expenses to the insurance company in what is called a demand. The insurance company may agree to pay the demanded amount and finalize the claim. However, in most cases, the insurance company counteroffers with a lower amount. At this point, it may become necessary to file a lawsuit.
You do not have to go to court for your attorney to file a lawsuit. Your attorney simply has to mail in some documents and have them stamped by the court. After the lawsuit is filed, the opposing party has a specified amount of time to respond to the lawsuit—which is again done by filing paperwork. After these documents have been filed, the parties may begin exchanging evidence that supports their claims. This is called the discovery period.
It is quite common to completely settle a lawsuit during the discovery period. Once the parties have gathered a sufficient amount of evidence, they may begin negotiating a settlement agreement. Further, some parties hire a mediator who helps them create reasonable settlement terms.
Only if the parties cannot settle all of their claims will the case proceed to trial—but the odds are, the case will settle long before then. Should you have to go to court, your attorney will thoroughly prepare you for your testimony.
Were you injured in an accident?
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Chicago law firm Stein & Shulman today. Call our office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 312.422.0500 to schedule your free consultation.