When Should I Sue After a Car Accident?
November 25, 2021 | Car Accidents
Car accidents in and around St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout the Metro East region can occur just about anywhere. However, these accidents are especially common on roadways where traffic volume is high, including interstates. When a car accident happens, accident victims can suffer injuries that require significant medical treatment and convalescence. Injured accident victims, in turn, might turn to the at-fault driver’s motor vehicle insurance company for compensation.
In some instances, the insurance company will offer full and fair monetary compensation to resolve the case with only a minimal amount of negotiation, commonly taking place in accident cases where the injured individual suffered one or more permanent injuries or disabilities. At other times, however, the insurance company adjuster will hold firm on their stance to offer less than the full value of the case.
When that happens, you may need to file a lawsuit and litigate the case in the state court system. You may need to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case where the insurance company is disputing or contesting fault/liability. In that instance, the insurance company might not put any money on the table to resolve the case through a settlement. A court may need to try the case.
If a Metro East or St. Louis car accident injured you, you must have knowledgeable legal representation in your corner every step of the way. An experienced attorney can review your case with you and help you determine if you might be eligible to file a claim for monetary compensation.
If you are eligible, your lawyer can file the claim on your behalf and represent you during all settlement negotiations. However, if the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in your case and pursue litigation through the state court system.
Trying to Resolve a Car Accident Case Through Settlement
Most personal injury car accident cases are resolved via the settlement process, a process that begins when an accident victim’s lawyer submits a demand package to the insurance company adjuster. The demand package will usually have a settlement demand letter, in which the accident victim’s lawyer makes a monetary demand to resolve the case through settlement.
In support of that settlement demand letter, the lawyer will include pertinent documentation relevant to the case at hand. These documents usually include a copy of the police report, witness statements (if any), medical records, medical bills, lost wage documentation, photographs of injuries, and photographs of the property damage sustained.
Once the insurance company adjuster receives and reviews all of this documentation, along with the demand letter, the adjuster will decide whether or not to accept liability for the car accident. In personal injury cases where liability, or fault, has been accepted, the adjuster will usually make an initial settlement offer to resolve the case.
In almost all circumstances, never accept the first offer that the insurance company adjuster puts on the table because an initial offer will typically undervalue your case—sometimes by a lot—and will not fully or even adequately compensate you for your accident-related injuries. Instead, your attorney will need to negotiate with the insurance company adjuster to reach a favorable settlement number.
If the case does not settle, your attorney can threaten litigation by filing a lawsuit in the court system. Your attorney can help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer that an insurance company adjuster puts on the table or file a lawsuit and litigate the case in court.
Litigating a Car Accident Case in Court
Victims of serious car accidents deserve to receive full compensation for all of their injuries, and these injuries might include:
- Soft tissue contusions
- Back and spinal cord injuries (including various types of paralysis)
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
In addition, car accident victims in St. Louis and throughout the Metro East deserve to recover compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, and mental anguish that they suffered as a result of their injuries.
If the insurance company is unwilling to offer you favorable settlement compensation for your injuries, you have the option of filing a lawsuit and pursuing litigation. When it comes to deciding whether to settle a case or litigate it in the court system, you should consider various factors with your attorney, including the venue (or county) where you will file the lawsuit, the extent of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatment and lost wages (if any), the likely result if the case goes to a jury trial or arbitration proceeding, and whether or not there are any liability disputes in your case.
If you decide to pursue litigation in your car accident case and a lawsuit has been filed, your attorney can continue to negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. However, if the insurance company adjuster will not offer you the compensation that you need, your lawyer can assist you throughout the litigation process.
Typically, you will need to answer written questions (called interrogatories) and participate in a deposition by the defense attorney assigned to the case. In addition, you might need to participate in one or more settlement conferences conducted by the court.
If your case does not settle after the litigation process, it may go to a jury trial. At the jury trial, jury members must decide all of the issues in dispute at that time. Those issues can include fault or damages.
There may be several alternatives available to you in your car accident case besides trial. For example, you can take your case before a mediator who will help the parties facilitate settlement discussions and work to resolve the case.
In contrast, you might decide to pursue binding arbitration, where a neutral third-party evaluator will listen to the evidence presented in the case and typically decide only the issue of damages. Your attorney can help you decide whether you should litigate your case or accept a pending offer to resolve it.