There is a misconception that if you have been injured in a car accident, you will need to go to court to get justice. We understand that there is a lot to deal with in the aftermath of a crash, a and trial might seem like an added burden. The good news is that when you work with an experienced car accident attorney in Houston, TX, you stand a good chance of receiving compensation for your losses without ever entering a courtroom.
Will I Have to Go to Court for My Injury Claim?
You do not necessarily have to go to court to pursue a personal injury claim following a car accident. In fact, most personal injury claims resolve with a settlement offer. A settlement offer is an amount of money that the liable party’s insurance company agrees to pay you in exchange for a case resolution outside of court. Working with a qualified lawyer can help you obtain a settlement offer that is proportionate to the damages you endured.
How to Resolve a Claim Outside of Court
Always Work With a Car Accident Attorney
Insurance companies make their profits by collecting more money from the insured than they pay out in claims. Therefore, they seek to offer the smallest payouts they can get away with. Working with an attorney who has extensive experience in the area of personal injury law is essential for maximizing the value of your claim and potentially saving time and money on litigation.
Staying out of court saves everyone time and money. That’s why insurance companies are incentivized to extend settlement offers. By demonstrating a thorough knowledge of your case and the laws pertaining to it, your attorney can show the insurance company that you are legally entitled to a fair amount. Car accidents involving injuries tend to produce high-value claims, making it especially important to have a strong attorney on your team.
Prepare a Claim That Reflects All the Damages
Your attorney can help you make sure your claim accounts for all aspects of the crash that deserve compensation. These can include:
- Your injuries
- Passenger injuries
- Damage to the vehicle
- Damage to property inside the vehicle
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
A good attorney will go review your case thoroughly, using his or her familiarity with the legal system to determine which details will increase the value of your claim when correctly reported. He or she will instruct you on how to submit the claim in accordance with all deadlines and obligations.
Have Evidence to Back Your Claim
When you argue for compensation in a personal injury case, you need to be able to prove that:
- The liable party caused you harm as a result of their negligence
- You suffered damages as a result of the injury
Evidence is gathered in the discovery phase of the claim, and it is important even if you do not go to trial. To build a strong case, you will work with your lawyer to gather relevant documents and footage. This can include medical bills, records of missed work, surveillance videos of the crash, and witness statements.
Understand That Settlements Involve Negotiations
Since it occurs out of court, a settlement represents an agreement that is reached independently between you and the insurance company. Your lawyer’s negotiating skills will play a big factor in determining the final amount. He or she should use his knowledge of insurance company tactics to call out any attempts to downplay or delay the claim. When you receive a settlement offer, you should review it together to determine if the amount is enough.
Be Aware of General Damages
After an accident, some of the damages for which the liable party can be held responsible have an obvious monetary value, such as the cost of going to the hospital immediately after the crash. However, some damages have a value that is more subjective. They are referred to as general damages, and they might include pain and suffering, disfigurement, or even loss of consortium (the affection of a spouse).
Insurance companies use software programs to determine the payout they offer you, based on the damages you report. In the case of general damages, the amount they offer is often much less than you would be awarded in a jury trial. It is your lawyer’s job to argue for a maximum payout that reflects the court value of your damages.
Be Prepared to Go to Trial If Negotiations Fall Through
Car accident injury claims almost always resolve themselves without a trial, however, sometimes the insurance company will refuse to offer a settlement or negotiate up to a fair amount. In that situation, your lawyer can coach you through the process of asking for a court date.
Understand Which Cases Are More Likely to Go to Trial
The higher the value of your claim, the more likely the insurance company is to fight against it all the way to a trial. Personal injury claims involving reduced earning capacity fall into that category. Reduced earning capacity refers to your ability to return to work after your accident. If you find yourself permanently compromised, the lost wages that you accrue over a lifetime can be considerable.
Similarly, cases involving severe injuries and wrongful death can be extremely costly. Insurance companies do not consider the interests of the victims or their families, even in the face of terrible damages. To win this kind of case, you will need to be prepared with considerable evidence and strong arguments.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Sometimes, you will be faced with the choice of accepting a settlement offer or going to trial to push for more. You should consider the pros and cons of pressing the lawsuit. On the one hand, you might stand a chance to get more money. On the other hand, the trial could delay your payout by months or even years. Additionally, if you lose the case, you will walk away with nothing.
Do Not Attempt to Represent Yourself
Some people try to avoid litigation fees by representing themselves instead of working with a lawyer. However, that is very risky in the case of personal injury lawsuits. Going to court demands that you follow strict protocols, and the state will not hold your hand through the process. Making mistakes could delay the proceedings, bias the judge against you, and even result in your case being thrown out.
Working with a skilled attorney is the best way to present your strongest case. Personal injury law is extremely complex, which is why attorneys spend years in law school learning it. When you show up in court with a strong legal professional by your side, you can proceed with confidence and clarity.
Work With a Skilled Car Accident Attorney in Houston, TX
Filing a claim for a car accident injury is a process that goes more smoothly when you have your own attorney in Houston, TX. Most importantly, having expert legal representation will force the insurance company to take you seriously, increasing your chances of getting a large payout. In most cases, an attorney can help everyone save time and money by negotiating a settlement outside of court. To learn more about how to get the best representation, call Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC today!