Many clients ask whether their personal injury cases will settle or go to trial. Industry estimates suggest about 95 percent of car accident claims resolve through settlements, leaving only five percent of cases that go to court. However, even if only a fraction of Indiana car accident cases go to trial, you should never forget that litigation may be necessary to get the results you deserve in your case.
At Truitt Law Offices, we prepare every case as if it is going to trial. If you suffered injuries in a car crash caused by someone else, understanding how insurance claims work and the trial process can help you anticipate what might come next. Contact us today for a free consultation with an Indiana car accident lawyer.
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If Most Cases Settle Before Trial, When Would a Case Go to Trial?
It is generally better for both plaintiffs and insurance companies to avoid a trial in an Indiana car accident case. Trials are expensive, time-consuming, and unpredictable, making them risky for both sides. That said, some instances when a car accident case might go to trial include:
- Accidents involving significant injuries or property damage – The worse someone’s injuries are after an accident, the more money they could recover for their injuries. Rather than pay a high-dollar settlement, an insurance company might take a car accident case to court if they believe they can prevail at trial. The same is true for cases involving extensive property damage.
- Fault is unclear – Indiana is a fault-based state for car accident claims, meaning a plaintiff must prove it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the crash and any resulting injuries. If an insurance company feels the question of fault is unclear, they might risk a trial to avoid paying a potentially expensive settlement.
- Cases involving failed settlement negotiations – If one or both sides in a car accident case do not negotiate in good faith, either side might go to trial to pressure the other side into making concessions. The threat of a trial can also be an effective way to bring someone back to the bargaining table if they refuse to make a reasonable offer.
How Long Can a Car Accident Case Take if It Goes to Trial?
Trials involve significant preparation and lengthy court proceedings, so it could be months or longer before the case concludes. Factors that can affect a trial’s timeline include:
- How much money the plaintiff demands
- The severity of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The number of defendants
- Each defendant’s share of the fault
- How many people witnessed the crash
- The strength of the plaintiff’s case
- The strength of the defendant’s case
No car accident attorney can guarantee a claim will settle or go to trial. However, a lawyer can outline the possibilities for you after reviewing the facts of your case.
What is the Trial Process if the Case Goes to Court?
Once a plaintiff has filed a lawsuit, the basic steps in an Indiana car accident trial are:
- Discovery – After the plaintiff files the lawsuit, both sides have some time to gather additional evidence to support their case. Common types of evidence used in personal injury trials include medical records, eyewitness accounts, surveillance footage, and expert testimony. Each side will request whatever evidence the other side has gathered before the case can proceed.
- Mediation – Judges know how long trials sometimes take and how expensive they are. To save everyone time, money, and hassle, judges often order both sides in a personal injury trial to meet with a mediator before the trial begins. Having both parties meet outside the courtroom with a neutral party can facilitate a reasonable compromise.
- Settlement negotiations – Once both sides in a civil trial have finished the discovery process, there is typically one last round of settlement negotiations. Now that both sides know what evidence the other party has to support their claim, it may be easier to reach a fair deal.
- Trial – If the final round of settlement negotiations fails, both sides will make their arguments in court. Juries hear some civil trials, while others are heard only by a judge. Regardless of who decides the case, it is up to each side’s lawyers to make their strongest possible argument for their clients.
- Verdict and award – After each side has presented its argument, the jury or judge will decide who won and render a verdict. If the plaintiff wins, the judge or jury will also determine how much compensation they receive for their injuries. If the defendant wins, the judge or jury may order the plaintiff to pay their legal fees or provide other compensation.
What are Common Car Accident Injuries?
Car accidents in Indiana frequently cause severe injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- External injuries to the head or face
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Injuries to internal organs
- Soft tissue injuries
- Lacerations and puncture wounds
- Psychological distress
What Damages Could I Be Entitled to from My Car Accident Claim?
Your compensation for a car accident claim depends on your injuries and other factors. With help from an experienced car accident attorney, you could recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Damaged personal property
Does Indiana Have a Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Indiana law gives victims two years from the date of a car accident to file a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, the courts will likely dismiss your case without hearing it. The threat of a trial is crucial to settlement negotiations with insurance companies, so don’t wait too long to speak to a car accident lawyer.
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer Now
At Truitt Law Offices, we aim for the best possible results for our clients. Whether that means advocating fiercely during settlement negotiations or tackling the case at trial, you can count on our attorneys to place your well-being front and center. Call Truitt Law Offices today or visit our contact page for a free consultation with a skilled car accident lawyer in Indiana.