If you are finding it impossible to settle a car accident claim you may have to file a lawsuit. Let’s take a look at what you should expect when you are filing the lawsuit and any alternatives to going to court.
The Alternatives to Filing a Lawsuit in Court
If you have been involved in a car accident you may wonder what you should do next. Should you immediately head to court or should you consider the other options instead? The good news is there are a few more options that could help to save you money and help you to get the result you’re looking for.
– Mediation and Arbitration
Some of the options you may want to consider are mediation and arbitration. Mediation involves meeting up with a mediator who will try to help both sides resolve their issues by coming to an agreement. Arbitration involves an arbitrator listening to evidence from both sides and deciding on the outcome similar to the way a judge would. The only downside to mediation and arbitration is that both sides have to agree to undertake these options.
– Making a Complaint
One alternative to taking your claim to court is to make a complaint about the insurance company not agreeing to a settlement. Let’s imagine that you’ve been involved in a car accident and the other driver’s insurance company refuses to settle and they’re acting unfairly. In cases such as this, you may want to think about complaining to your state’s insurance department.
Every insurance company is regulated and licensed and have to be concerned about the complaints made against them. If you think the insurance company is not playing fairly, you should get in touch with your state’s insurance department as soon as you can.
Going to Court: Your Options
– A small claims court
Depending on your claim and how much money you are attempting to recover, you could have the option of filing your claim in a small claims court. In car accident cases, the claims are usually decided by a judge rather than a jury. This often means that cases will reach the trial stage quite quickly. This is because claims such as these have expedited pre-trial procedures. Trials in a small claims court usually involve people representing themselves as the trials are not typically governed by the same rules of evidence as they would be in other courts.
The difficulty with a small claims court is that there is a limit on how much money you’ll be able to claim. The limit can vary from state to state and can be as little as $1,500, or as much as $25,000.
– A civil court
If you intend to win more than the limit set by the small claims court in your state it’s likely that you will have to take your case to a civil court. You should be aware that the processes in a civil court are more expensive and slower than a small claims court. There are also a lot more rules surrounding claims in civil courts too.
Once a case has been filed there will be a discovery phase, where both parties learn more information about the evidence used by the defense, and vice versa. Please read our article ‘The ‘Discovery’ Phase of a Car Accident Case’ for more information.
If you take your trial to a civil court you may want to think about hiring a lawyer. This is because it could work in your favor if someone on your side understands the law and the way civil courts work.
Representing Yourself in Court
Some people choose to represent themselves in court as they do not have to be represented by a lawyer. If your case ends up in a small claims court then you should feel free to represent yourself. One of the great things about a small claims court is that they exist so citizens can present small claims without having to hire a lawyer.
If your case ends up in a civil court you could find that representing yourself is very difficult. You will need to have knowledge of how the system works, and you may end up making matters worse for yourself and you may be unable to prove your case, despite your good intentions.
If it looks like there’s a real potential for you to win a good settlement, you should hire a lawyer as they can help you navigate the often confusing world of civil court laws.
If you are currently suffering from a personal injury and are unable to read ‘An Outline of Car Accident Lawsuits’ please watch our Injury Pedia video so you can gain the Personal Injury Information and Answers you are seeking.