Ochs Law Firm Blog

Will I Have to Go to Court in Order to Get a Car Accident Settlement?

gavel and lawyer.

If you’ve never been in an accident before, you might be unfamiliar with the steps you need to take to win the compensation you deserve. For reliable information, we recommend contacting a car accident lawyer in Laramie, Wyoming or Gillette, Wyoming. The first question many people ask is whether or not they will need to go to court. The answer depends on how your case progresses, but in all likelihood, you will be able to settle without a trial.

Why Only Some Car Accident Cases Go to Court

Wyoming is an at-fault state, meaning that you have the legal right to sue anyone who causes you harm in a car accident. However, most drivers carry insurance. As a result, the at-fault driver’s insurance company usually covers the damages. Unless they really believe a claim is unfounded, the insurance company is likely to offer the claimant a settlement as opposed to putting up a defense in court.

To win a settlement, you will need to show the insurance company that a court would likely uphold the validity of your claim. In such cases, the insurance company is incentivized to skip the trial by providing the settlement, thereby avoiding unnecessary legal fees. Since the insurance company’s main objective is to increase its bottom line by cutting costs, most valid claims are paid without a trial.

The Role of Your Car Accident Lawyer

Many people believe that personal injury attorneys spend most of their time litigating on behalf of their clients, making a big show in court, and saying things like, “Your Honor, I object!” In fact, the best attorneys can save their clients time and money by securing large settlements through negotiation.

Your attorney will gather evidence to support your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. He or she will then use the evidence yielded by the investigation to convince the insurance company to offer you a settlement that is proportionate to your damages. If the negotiation process is successful, you can avoid going to trial and walk away with enough money to cover all your medical expenses and other losses.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Legal Process

What If the Insurance Company Refuses to Offer Me a Settlement?

Until you sign a document relinquishing your right to take the liable party to court, you can initiate a lawsuit.  If the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate or if their final offer is too low, your lawyer may suggest that you go to court after all.

There can be pros and cons to going through with the lawsuit. If the court sides with you, you may walk away with a higher payout than the insurance company was willing to issue. On the other hand, if the court sides against you, you may end up with nothing. A skilled lawyer will help you weigh these pros and cons. Most likely, he or she will only suggest going to trial if there is ample evidence in your favor.

Why Should My Lawyer Have a Strong Track Record of Litigation If Most Claims Settle Outside of Court?

It is always important to work with an auto accident lawyer from a reputable firm who has a strong track record of securing settlements through both negotiation and litigation. While settling outside of court is almost always beneficial for everyone involved, your car accident lawyer should be willing to go to trial for you if necessary.

Some firms seek to maximize their profits by encouraging their clients to settle quickly for less money than they are entitled to receive. This practice runs contrary to a lawyer’s responsibility to act in the client’s best interest at all times. Before you make a client-lawyer relationship official, make sure that the lawyer you have chosen has the resources and willingness to take the insurance company to court if they refuse to negotiate.

Why Shouldn’t I Negotiate Without a Lawyer?

Insurance companies are very familiar with the legal process of settling claims. They are also for-profit companies that may use manipulative tactics if you attempt to secure your settlement without a lawyer. If the insurance company offers you a settlement right away, their offer may be an attempt to entice you into signing away your right to file a lawsuit in exchange for an amount of money that is too low.

In addition to undervaluing your claim, the insurance company may ask you to give a recorded statement. Usually, claimants are not legally required to discuss the details of the accident with the other driver’s insurance company. If you consent to an interview, you may receive probing questions intended to exact statements that can be construed as evidence against you. By working with a lawyer, you will gain a clearer understanding of your rights.

How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Claim?

Neither the other driver nor the insurance company benefits from making a case take longer than it has to. The length of time necessary to reach a settlement or secure a court-ordered payout depends on several factors, including the strength of the evidence you bring and the other side’s perseverance in arguing against your claim.

If your accident was a straightforward crash involving two personal-use vehicles and no fatalities, you can expect to reach a resolution within a few months. While more complex accidents and extremely valuable claims tend to take longer to resolve, most cases are finalized in less than two years. In the meantime, your attorney can help you address your medical bills by going through your health insurance or deferring the costs until after the case is resolved.

What Damages Can I Recover?

In theory, you should be able to recover compensation for all of the losses you experienced as a result of the other party’s negligence. These losses might include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Transportation to and from the medical facilities
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of quality of life

When you and your lawyer are done tallying all of your losses, you may find that the other driver’s insurance company owes you a considerable amount of money. The costly nature of a car accident is one of the reasons why it is so important to seek the compensation you deserve. While winning a settlement cannot undo the accident, you will have more resources to put toward your recovery once justice has been served.

Find a Lawyer in Laramie, Wyoming or Gillette, Wyoming

Our attorneys are committed to ensuring you the best possible case outcome, regardless of the complexity of your accident. Our process starts with a consultation, during which we will go over several courses of action, including settling outside of court and going to trial.  You can rely on us for candid legal advice, superior negotiation skills, and solid litigation strategies. From start to finish, we will work to maximize the value of your claim while minimizing the legal hassle.

We’re Here to Help You Settle Your Claim

While personal injury law provides plenty of legal recourses for individuals who have been injured in a car crash, leveraging the legal system isn’t always easy. To schedule an appointment with us in Laramie, Wyoming or Gillette, Wyoming, contact Ochs Law Firm.

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Our experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer, Jason E. Ochs will fight to help you recover proper compensation in a class action, pharmaceutical, and medical cases throughout multiple states. Contact us today.

Jason E. Ochs

Jason began his legal career in 2002 with a national multi-district litigation law firm in Newport Beach, California. There he worked on a variety of high-profile, complex-litigation projects including pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation across the country.

The Ochs Law Firm epitomizes professionalism and commitment to all of our clients, regardless of the size of the case or the might of the Defendant. We practice in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and California in personal injury litigation, medical malpractice, defective products, class action lawsuits, Qui Tam lawsuits, litigation across multiple districts, bad faith insurance, and civil litigation.

We look forward to providing top quality service and representation for you and your family.