How Often Do Car Accident Cases Go to Court?

How Often Do Car Accident Cases Go to Court?

If you are injured in a car accident, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking damages – at least in most states. However, the chance that your case will go to trial is minimal.

In 2021, there were over 6.1 million police-reported car accidents in the United States. That same year, there were 109,741 traffic accidents reported in Missouri, to name just one state as an example. Even though thousands of car accident lawsuits are filed each year, only a small percentage goes to court.

In a study in the early 1990s, researchers found only 3% of the personal injury cases filed when to court. Statistics are difficult to find, but it’s safe to say that most personal injury cases don’t go to trial. Therefore, your accident case is far more likely to settle than to go all the way to a jury trial.

Why Do Car Accident Cases Go to Trial?

You go to trial to settle a dispute. Insurance companies and at-fault parties dispute liability for a car accident claim to avoid paying the victim for damages. There could be complex legal questions about liability, including allegations of contributory negligence. There could also be issues related to the value of damages, including the severity of a person’s injuries or their failure to mitigate damages. 

At the heart of the dispute is money. Insurance companies and at-fault drivers try to limit the amount of money they must pay to settle the claim. Therefore, a common reason car accident cases go to court is that the insurance company for the at-fault driver refuses to negotiate a reasonable settlement amount. 

When you file a car accident lawsuit, your case could take more than a year to go to trial. During that time, your case goes through several phases, including:

  • Filing a complaint and serving the defendants
  • Waiting for responses, answers, and counterclaims to the complaint
  • Filing responses to counterclaims or third-party claims
  • Engaging in discovery (i.e., the exchange of information and documents with the other party and gathering evidence from third parties)
  • Settlement negotiations, which could include mediation
  • Pre-trial motions and hearings
  • Trial and jury verdict
  • Appeals

The insurance company may believe it has a better chance of taking the case to court instead of paying a settlement. However, as you can see from the statistics, insurance companies are not thrilled about going to court.

The Advantages of Settling Car Accident Cases Without Going to Court

For the most part, injured victims and insurance companies are motivated to settle car accident cases through negotiations or mediation. The advantages of a personal injury settlement include:

  • Settlements are often quicker than taking a case to trial
  • Filing a lawsuit, preparing for trial, and arguing a case in court is more expensive
  • Personal injury lawsuits are more time-consuming than settlements
  • Trials can last for days or weeks and be very stressful for the parties involved
  • Jurors are unpredictable and could return a verdict for the other party even though your evidence is strong
  • A jury verdict does not guarantee payment
  • The other party could appeal the jury verdict dragging the case on for years

Personal injury settlements are private. Trials are a matter of public record. Some parties prefer to keep the dispute and the personal injury settlement confidential. Additionally, when a party agrees to settle a car accident lawsuit, they do not need to admit fault or negligence. 

How Do I Know Whether To Accept a Car Accident Settlement or Go to Trial?

Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is the first step in protecting your fights and increasing your chance of receiving fair compensation for damages. Personal injury lawyers understand how insurance companies handle claims. They know the laws that apply in your case and how those laws could impact the outcome at trial.

Your attorney will diligently try to settle your case through negotiations because that is generally the most efficient way to get you money for your claim. However, there could be legal reasons to file a lawsuit and go to trial. 

Your attorney will explain the risks and benefits of accepting a settlement versus going to trial. With your lawyer’s help, you can decide which option is in your best interest based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.

What Should I Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Louisiana?

What Should I Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Louisiana?

After a personal injury accident, you face a difficult situation. The easy path would be to ignore the situation and try to move on with your life. However, you may face significant financial losses due to medical bills and missed time from work. Your quality of life might also decrease due to pain, depression, and disfigurement.

Hiring a lawyer may be necessary to get compensation for your losses. The lawyer you hire for your case could make a dramatic difference in your personal injury case outcome. The right lawyer will have the skills, knowledge, and experience to put you in the best position to recover fair compensation for your injuries.

The Role of the Personal Injury Attorney

Louisiana law gives you the right to pursue injury compensation when you suffer an injury due to someone else’s actions. If you lost a loved one to a fatal accident, you could pursue a wrongful death claim against those who caused your loved one’s death.

In either case, your claim will probably start with an insurance claim. Many accidents are covered by insurance policies such as:

  • Auto insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Medical malpractice insurance
  • General business liability insurance

These policies include liability coverage, which covers claims from third parties that fall within the policy. So, for example, when a driver hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is covered by the driver’s auto insurance liability coverage.

If the driver also suffers an injury, the liability coverage will not cover the driver’s losses. Liability insurance only pays third-party claims against the policyholder. It does not pay claims by the policyholder.

Your attorney will prepare the claim and document your losses. To win a claim, your lawyer must prove the policyholder bears legal liability for your injuries. Many claims will settle at this stage based on the documents submitted. Your attorney only needs to negotiate with a claims adjuster to get you the greatest compensation possible.

But in some situations, the claims adjuster will deny your claim. Some common grounds for claim denials include the following:

  • The policyholder did not cause your accident
  • The policyholder did not act negligently
  • The accident did not cause your injuries
  • Your losses did not result from your injuries

If your injury attorney cannot overcome the claim denial, they must file a lawsuit to continue your pursuit of compensation.

Factors to Consider When Hiring an Injury Lawyer in Louisiana

Some considerations when hiring an injury lawyer include:

The Lawyer’s References

When you start looking for a lawyer, you should look for someone who comes highly recommended. References from other lawyers or even judges should carry a lot of weight. They have often seen the lawyer in action and know the level of skill and knowledge they possess.

References from former clients are also valuable. A former client will only recommend their attorney if satisfied with the results. Equally importantly, if a former client recommends against a lawyer, listen to why they were unhappy with the lawyer’s work.

You should beware of online reviews. While online reviews can provide limited insight into the lawyer’s skills, you have no way to verify the source. As a result, the reviews might give you a false impression of the lawyer.

The Lawyer’s Communication Skills

Most injury lawyers offer free consultations to new clients. Once you narrow down the field of lawyers, you will want to schedule free consultations with the lawyers under consideration.

During the consultation, you will describe your accident and your injuries. The lawyer will explain your legal options and may even estimate the compensation you can seek. As you converse, listen to the substance of the lawyer’s explanation and how well the lawyer explains the legal issues.

Lawyers must have strong communication skills to negotiate with claims adjusters and persuade them to accept your claim. If the claims adjuster denies your claim, the lawyer must explain and persuade a judge and jury to agree with your side of the story and award damages to you.

Experience Handling Similar Cases

Experience can make a difference in the lawyer’s ability to quickly obtain the best possible outcome. However, their total number of years is not the only relevant factor. You want a lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases.

Lawyers gain skills through practice, and the skills that a lawyer gains through handling truck accident cases might not necessarily translate directly to a medical malpractice case. Additionally, the lawyer might not have relationships with the expert witnesses you need for your case if they usually handle different types of cases.

Legal Fees Charged by the Lawyer

One of the most important considerations in hiring a lawyer is the fee you will pay. Most injury attorneys charge a contingency fee. But the percentage could vary from lawyer to lawyer.

The benefit of a contingency fee for accident victims is that you will not need to pay any upfront fees for the lawyer to start working on your case. Additionally, a contingency fee gets paid at the end of the case based on the compensation your lawyer recovers for you. Thus, you only pay if you win or settle your case.

Lawyers in Louisiana must provide a written fee agreement before you hire them. Review the fee agreement carefully and ask any questions that come to mind. You will have fewer disputes with the lawyer if you fully understand the agreement before signing it.

Hiring an Injury Lawyer in Louisiana

Once you choose a lawyer, Louisiana law requires the lawyer to have you sign the fee agreement. The lawyer can start working on your case immediately by collecting your medical records and filing an insurance claim.

Choosing a lawyer is only the first step in pursuing injury compensation. But with careful consideration, you will hire a lawyer who can get the best possible outcome for your case.

How Does a Recall Affect a Product Liability Claim?

How Does a Recall Affect a Product Liability Claim?

If a defective product injures you, you might wonder if the product was subject to a recall. Suppose you search for a recall and discover the product was, in fact, recalled. If so, the recall could be used as evidence in a product liability claim, though it doesn’t automatically prove liability for damages.

How Does a Product Recall Work in the United States?

Manufacturers recall products for many reasons, including reports of adverse events. They might voluntarily recall a product or initiate a recall after prompting by a federal agency. Federal agencies that recall products include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

A notice is sent to sellers and distributors to immediately remove the product from the market. Recalls may be published online, provided to the media, and listed on various government websites. In some cases, recall notices might be sent to known customers.

The recall notice identifies the product by make, model, and lot number. The notice might also explain the dangers the product poses and any known adverse events. Finally, the recall provides information about what the consumer should do, such as return the product or throw the product away.

Does a Recall Automatically Make a Manufacturer Liable?

Some state laws might allow recalls to be entered into evidence in a product liability case. Other states have laws that make recall notices inadmissible as evidence. In either case, the recall itself does not create liability for damages caused by a defective product

On the other hand, the recall does not automatically relieve the manufacturer from liability. The manufacturer might use the recall as a defense to product liability claims by proving the injured party received a recall notice and continued using the product. However, if a person is injured because of a defective product, a broadly issued recall does not absolve the manufacturer of liability. 

Instead, the plaintiff must prove the elements of a product liability claim. 

What Are the Legal Elements of a Product Liability Claim?

Product liability is the legal doctrine that holds a party liable for damages caused by a defective product. A product liability claim might be based on negligence, but many product liability cases are based on strict liability. That means the manufacturer and other parties can be liable for damages regardless of whether they intended to create a defective product or knew it was defective.

Generally, you must prove the following legal elements of a product liability lawsuit to win:

  • The product had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous;
  • You used the product in a manner that a reasonable person would have used the product;
  • The defect was the proximate and direct cause of your injury; and,
  • You sustained damages because of the defect.

Product liability claims typically fall into one of three categories: design defect, manufacturing defect, and failure to warn (marketing defect). 

Investigating and gathering evidence to prove your personal injury case can be challenging. Product liability claims are incredibly complex personal injury cases. It is best to consult an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible after a defective product causes an injury.

Damages You Can Receive for Injuries Caused by Defective Products 

Generally, recalls do not have a substantial impact on product liability claims. If you prove the legal elements of a product liability case, you could receive compensation for your:

The value of your product liability claim depends on several factors. The severity of your injury and whether you could be partially to blame for your injury are two factors used to value damages. 

What Should I Do if a Product Has Been Recalled?

If you sustained injuries, seek medical treatment immediately. Be sure to tell the doctor that a product caused your injuries. Medical records are essential for winning a product liability lawsuit. 

Read the entire recall notice carefully to determine the dangers associated with the product. Secure the product safely and contact a product liability lawyer immediately. The attorney can advise you if you need to return, dispose of, or preserve the product.