Do I Have to Take the Stand if my Personal Injury Case Goes to Court?
What If My PI Case Goes to Court?
Being involved in an accident is always a stressful time. It doesn’t become less stressful if your case is taken to court.
After a car accident, a victim can collect damages from the negligent individual in two ways.
The insurance company can offer a settlement that the victim accepts, or the victim can go through a civil lawsuit to collect damages.
Let’s discuss this a little further.
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Settlements and Civil Lawsuits
A settlement occurs when the defendant/insurer and the plaintiff/injured party agree on a payment offer to the injured person.
Most injury cases are settled as this would benefit all parties involved since trials can be lengthy, stressful, and risky.
Insurance companies would rather start making reasonable offers for injury claims than leave the matter in the hands of a judge or jury with a verdict that will cost a defendant an astronomical sum.
They also prefer to settle claims outside the court as this comes with bad press and public attention.
However, some cases would require having a jury trial to get full compensation.
Reasons You Might Go to Trial
One reason you could have a personal injury trial is to determine who is at fault.
There will be some instances when the plaintiff and the insurance company can’t reasonably agree on who was at fault for the accident.
The defendant might deny any liability for the plaintiff’s injuries and strongly believes that the evidence supports their positions.
During a trial, the lawyer works to present evidence to determine who is ultimately at fault. Since only one party can be correct, the trial can go either way.
If it is determined that the plaintiff isn’t reasonably at fault, they would be more likely to be entitled to more compensation.
That being said, the defendant may have their own counterclaims against the plaintiff as well.
If it’s proven the plaintiff was negligent and at fault, it can hurt their case and potentially reduce their overall settlement.
If the insurance company does not believe the plaintiff was injured, they may choose not to settle the plaintiff’s claim or dispute the severity of their claimed injuries.
They may argue that the injuries were not a result of the accident but a pre-existing injury that was already present before the crash.
The plaintiff might have no choice but to go to court to prove that the pre-existing injuries are unrelated to the ones sustained in the accident.
Learn more about pre-existing injuries by clicking here
Another reason for a car accident case to go to trial is a disagreement on proposed compensation.
Insurance companies always look to pay out the least amount of compensation legally possible. It’s why insurance holders and insurance companies commonly disagree on proper compensation.
The plaintiff could benefit from court filings or proceedings to gain an unwavering insurance company’s attention.
They would also be more likely to pay up when threatened with the possibility of court.
Should You Testify?
In cases when personal injury claims are settled outside of the courtroom, the plaintiff doesn’t have to worry about testifying at trial. However, when the personal injury case goes to trial, the plaintiff will likely need to testify.
While no law requires a plaintiff to testify at a hearing, there are reasons why their testimony is necessary.
Firstly, the plaintiff needs to establish how the accident actually happened.
When the jury doesn’t have the plaintiff’s side of the story, the jury will have to depend on the defendant’s version of events to decide on the issue of negligence. The defendant’s account will likely not tell a story that points to their negligence. The plaintiff needs to testify to explain to the jury the extent of the injuries from the accident.
While their attorney will likely introduce documentary evidence to support their claims, such as medical reports and bills or call in experts to testify regarding the extent of their injuries, nothing replaces the victim’s own testimony to convince a jury of their pain and suffering.
Additionally, a doctor’s report explaining the plaintiff’s injuries may not have the same impact as a victim describing their injuries and how it affected their lives in their own words. Testifying can trigger sympathy from the jury and lead to creating a bond with the plaintiff.
Lastly, the jury must hear if the accident caused non-economic suffering.
The jury frequently awards larger non-economic damages than economic damages. Non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, humiliation, and emotional distress cannot be verified through documentary evidence but the plaintiff’s testimony.
While the plaintiff’s testimony is vital to winning a personal injury accident trial, if you testify, it’s important to be confident about what you saw since the other side will cross-examine you. They will do their best to poke holes in your statements or attempt to discredit you.
Related Post: The Most Famous Personal Injury Cases
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to prepare you for this stressful event.
While they’re not allowed to “coach” you about what to say at your deposition, they can still guide you in the right direction, so you can be clear, concise, accurate, and truthful to strengthen your testimony and personal injury case.
Going to court is much less stressful with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm on your side.
Consult a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm for any legal advice or to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Visit our website or contact us at (912) 200-9755 for a Free Consultation to discuss the nature of your case.
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