Matthew B. Troutman
Does Every Auto Accident Claim require a Lawsuit?
Many people assume that a lawsuit is required in every claim for personal injuries sustained as a result of a car accident. But, in actuality, a lawsuit is only necessary in 10% or less of car accident claims. A lawsuit occurs when a car accident attorney files a complaint in the local court that begins a process to resolve the claim. In most cases, the auto accident attorney is able to resolve the claim through an informal settlement process.
The Informal Claim Procedure for an Auto Accident Claim
A good car accident lawyer will not present your claim to the insurance company until you have completed your medical treatment, because it is at that point that your claim has its greatest value. One of the factors that determine the value of your claim is the length of treatment. A claim with one year of medical treatment is going to have more value than a claim with the same injury, but a shorter period of treatment. The only time that it is smart to present a claim to the insurance company before medical treatment is completed, is when the value of the claim exceeds the available insurance. It does not help the car accident victim to wait a year to present the claim, if you can collect the same amount of money in six months. An unfortunate reality is that your claim is limited to the avaialble insurance. To learn why click here.
After you complete your medical treatment, the auto accident lawyer will collect your remaining medical records and then he will present a demand package to the insurance company. To learn what the car accident lawyer should include in the demand package, click here. If you do not receive a reasonable offer from the insurance company in response to the demand package submitted by your accident lawyer, then your only option to obtain a larger amount of money is to file a lawsuit. At this point, the accident attorney should descibe in detail what is involved in the litigation process so that you can make an intelligent decision about whether to accept the unreasonable offer or file the lawsuit.
Understanding the Litigation Process
There are different phases of the litigation process- filing of the initial paperwork, the exchange of written information between the parties, your deposition (answering questions from the opposing attorney under oath before a court reporter), mediation (settlement conference where mediator attempts to broker a settlement between the parties) and a trial (presentation of evidence by both parties to a jury, who will decide your claim). The litigation process is slow and it will normally take a year or longer to reach the trial stage. Over 90% of cases in litigation are settled prior to trial (usually in the mediation). You need to decide if you want to go through the litigation process to obtain the result you deserve. A good personal injury lawyer will explain this process to you before asking you to go through it. It should be your decision to file the lawsuit and not the lawyer's.
Most motor vehicle accident claims are resolved without the need of litigation. This is a good fact that any injured auto accident victim should like. However, if you receive an unreasonable offer, you need to be prepared to consider the litigation process to increase your chances of a good result. This is a decision that you should make in consultation with a good accident attorney.