Category: Car Accidents

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.

Whom Can I Sue if an Uber Driver Hits Me

Whom Can I Sue if an Uber Driver Hits Me?

Getting into an accident with an Uber driver is rarely an easy experience. You could end up with significant medical bills, lost wages, and other types of financial losses on top of your pain and suffering. And with this type of accident, you might not be sure what your options are for compensation.

The good news is that you’ll generally have a party to file a lawsuit (or insurance claim) against after a collision with an Uber vehicle in California and Nevada. Whom exactly you will sue will come down to the facts and circumstances of the situation. The sections below will fill you in on the details.

Considerations Under California and Nevada Law

It’s helpful to note at the onset that California and Nevada are both considered “at fault” states when it comes to car insurance. Some states follow “no-fault” rules instead; in those states, you cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless the accident is especially serious, as defined by state law. In at-fault states like Nevada and California, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party after a car accident. 

That said, another important consideration is that, as of now, Uber drivers are considered independent contractors in both states. This means in the vast majority of cases, you won’t be able to file a lawsuit against Uber directly in order to obtain compensation. 

However, you might be able to file a claim against Uber’s insurance policy, your own car insurance policy, or the driver’s personal insurance policy. You might also be able to file a lawsuit against the driver directly. The best course of action is highly case and fact-specific.

Uber’s Insurance Policies

Uber has three different policies in place, which vary depending on what the Uber driver’s status was at the time of the crash. 

The Driver Is Offline

If the driver is not online at the time of the accident – meaning their driver app is off, and they are not working – then the driver’s own insurance policy will apply to the case. In these circumstances, you may file a claim against that policy (or your own policy, or both), or you may file a lawsuit against the driver. Your best course of action will come down to the terms of the policy in question, your own car insurance policy, and whether the Uber driver will be able to compensate you for the accident.

The Driver Is Available and Online

If the driver is logged into the Uber app and is available to pick up a passenger but has yet to do so, Uber provides limited coverage in the form of:

  • $50,000 in bodily injury per person
  • $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage per accident

Note that this coverage will only apply if the driver’s own coverage does not. In this circumstance, you may be able to file a claim against this limited policy or the at-fault driver’s policy. You may also sue the at-fault driver if this coverage is not enough to cover all of your damages. 

The Driver Is En Route To Pick Up a Passenger or During a Trip

If the Uber driver has already picked up the passenger or has accepted the ride request and is en route, Uber’s maximum insurance policy will apply:

  • $1,000,000 in third-party liability
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage and/or first-party coverage
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage, up to actual cash value with a $2,500 deductible

In this sort of situation, it is likely your best course of action to file a claim against that lucrative insurance policy. But again, it is impossible to make that assessment without knowing the facts of the case.

Schedule a Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer To Discuss Your Case

If you’ve been involved in a car accident with an Uber driver, you likely have options for compensation. In at-fault states like California and Nevada, you won’t be limited to your own car insurance policy. 

In general, your options will come down to the driver’s status at the time of the crash in conjunction with the terms of your and the driver’s personal insurance policies. A personal injury lawyer can help you assess your options and from there, determine the course of action that sets you up best for a favorable outcome. 

Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so it won’t hurt to contact one for legal advice.

Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Hit and Run?

Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Hit and Run?

Normally, when a driver is in an accident, they stop to collect the other driver’s information, check on their injuries, and call for help if necessary. But what happens if the vehicle that caused the crash flees the scene? 

A 2018 study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that in 2016 there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run crashes. Cumulatively, these crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths. 

Additionally, a 2020 study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that 24 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2020 were the result of a hit-and-run accident. These numbers show that hit-and-run collisions are a real problem.

If you have recently been in a hit-and-run accident, you may be considering hiring a lawyer. Here is what you need to know.

Treat the Accident the Same as Another Crash

One important thing to remember about hit-and-run accidents is that they should be treated in the same manner as any other crash. This means that even though you are not able to identify the other party, you will still need to prove you are not at fault and deserve compensation. 

In this regard, contacting an attorney could help you obtain compensation for your medical bills and the damage to your vehicle.

Try to Identify the Driver

Unfortunately, many hit-and-run crashes remain unsolved due to the police being unable to locate the other driver. You can help them out by writing down everything you can remember about the accident. Make sure to do so immediately following the accident, while everything is fresh in your mind.

Helpful details include any of the following information about the other driver:

  • Vehicle’s make and model
  • Vehicle’s color
  • License plate number
  • Driver’s facial characteristics

Even partial information is helpful and can potentially lead to the apprehension of the other driver.

If other drivers were present, make sure to ask them if they are able to remember any identifying characteristics of the vehicle or driver. If the accident occurred near a store or roadway where there is a security camera, check with the camera’s owner to see if the footage can be reviewed.

Finally, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle. This will help down the line when you are filing a claim and need proof of damages. If any issues arise, this will enable you to show you are telling the truth.

Obtain Medical Treatment

After the accident, you should go to a hospital immediately and get yourself checked out. This applies even if you do not have any visible injuries. Getting medical attention ensures that you are in good health, but is also important in helping you receive just compensation.

Going to the doctor will serve as an index of your injuries and allow for precise documentation should you decide to file a personal injury claim.

Recover Damages

The process for recovering damages from a hit-and-run accident is slightly different than a regular accident. 

In the case of a normal accident, you would go to the other driver’s insurance agency for compensation. However, since the other driver fled the scene, you will need to go to your insurance company. The specifics of how to go about this will depend on the laws in your state.

How Compensation Works

If you are injured in a hit-and-run collision, you are entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering experienced as a result of the accident. 

An experienced personal injury attorney will understand the types of compensation involved and know how to advocate on your behalf, even when it comes to dealing with your own insurance company.