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.
1. The insurance company can offer a settlement that the victim accepts
2. The victim can go through a civil lawsuit to collect damages
Let's discuss these a little further.
Settlements and Civil Lawsuits
A settlement occurs when the insurer or defendant, as well as the plaintiff or the injured party, agree upon an offer of payment 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
- Determine who is at Fault
There will be some instances when the plaintiff and the insurance company can’t reasonably agree who was at fault for the accident.
The defendant might deny any liability for the plaintiff’s injuries and believes that the evidence supports their positions. For instance, the other party’s insurance may claim that the accident was your fault when you, in fact, believe otherwise.
The trial will work to present evidence and be used to determine who is ultimately at fault. Since only one party can be correct, the trial can go both ways.
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 that they were negligent or at fault, it can hurt their case and potentially reduce their overall settlement.
- The Extent of The Plaintiff’s Injuries
The insurance company may choose not to settle the plaintiff’s claim when they do not believe that the plaintiff was injured 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.
- Proposed Compensation
Another reason for a car accident case to go on trial is due to a disagreement on the 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 to begin court filings or proceedings to gain the attention of an unwavering insurance company.
They would also be more likely to pay up when threatened with the possibility of taking the case to 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 which will certainly not tell a story that points to their negligence.
A plaintiff also needs to testify to explain to the jury the extent of the injuries that resulted from an accident.
While their attorney will likely introduce documentary evidence such as medical reports and bills to support their claims or call in experts to testify regarding the extent of their injuries, nothing replaces the victim’s own testimony to convince the 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 on their own words. Thus, testifying can trigger sympathy from the jury and lead to creating a bond with the plaintiff.
Lastly, it’s necessary for the jury to hear what the accident caused them in a non-economic way.
The jury frequently awards the non-economic damages much larger than the economic portion.
These non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, humiliation, and emotional distress cannot be verified through documentary evidence, but through the testimony of the plaintiff.
While a testimony of the plaintiff is vital to win a personal injury accident trial, if you testify, it’s also important to remember to be confident about what you saw and remember since the other side will be able to cross-examine you and do their best to poke holes in your statements or attempt to discredit you.
Contact an Experienced PI 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 appear as clear, concise, accurate and truthful and strengthen your testimony and your personal injury case.
Going to court is much less stressful with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm on your side.
Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown firm for any legal advice or to help you get the compensation you deserve.