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When Does a Car Accident Go to Court?

Not all car accident claims are resolved in court; here’s what you need to know.

Summary

  • While car accidents are often settled outside of court, understanding when legal action is necessary is crucial to protect your rights and obtain fair compensation.
  • Serious injuries, unreasonable insurance companies, uninsured drivers, and disputed traffic tickets can all lead to court appearances.
  • Car accident victims may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  • An experienced car accident lawyer can provide legal guidance, negotiate with insurance companies, maximize compensation, and represent you in court if necessary.

The aftermath of a car accident is rarely a smooth ride. Beyond the immediate shock and potential physical injuries, victims often face a confusing legal landscape. Many are unsure of their rights and what the next steps are.

While many envision car accident cases automatically ending in dramatic courtroom battles, the reality is far more nuanced. However, understanding when a car accident might necessitate legal action is crucial for protecting your rights and securing fair compensation.

At Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia, our dedicated car accident attorneys will defend your rights in and out of court. You can contact us online or call us at (800) 320-4357 to schedule a free consultation.

The Impact of Car Accident

Car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports hundreds of thousands of crashes each year. Often, this results in injuries and fatalities that leave victims and their families grappling with devastating consequences.

Most Common Injuries from Car Accidents in Florida

The force of a car accident can inflict a variety of injuries, ranging from minor to life-altering. Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Whiplash: This is a soft tissue injury to the neck, often caused by sudden back-and-forth movement during a collision. Symptoms include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and dizziness.
  • Broken bones: Fractures can occur anywhere in the body, with limbs, ribs, and the pelvis being particularly vulnerable in car accidents.
  • Head injuries: These can range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) with long-term consequences.
  • Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is incredibly delicate, and even minor damage can lead to paralysis or permanent loss of function.
  • Internal bleeding: This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Soft tissue damage: This includes sprains, strains, and tears to muscles, ligaments, and tendons, often causing significant pain and limited mobility.

The severity of these injuries significantly impacts the legal implications of a car accident.

Most Car Accidents Are Settled Out of Court

In most car accident cases, the involved parties or their insurance companies reach a settlement agreement outside of court. This means they negotiate a compensation amount to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other personal injury damages, avoiding the complexities and time involved in a formal trial.

How Car Accident Settlement Process Works

The insurance company representing the at-fault driver investigates the accident scene, gathers witness statements, and reviews medical records to assess the extent of the victim’s injuries. Based on their findings, they offer a settlement amount to compensate the victim for their losses.

The victim can then choose to:

  • Accept the offer: If the settlement amount is deemed fair and covers all their losses, the victim can accept the offer and finalize the claim.
  • Negotiate for a higher amount: If the initial offer feels insufficient, the victim can negotiate with the insurance company through their own auto accident lawyer or speak to them directly to seek a higher compensation.
  • Reject the offer and pursue legal action: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, the victim has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver or their insurance company.

Reasons a Car Accident Lawsuit Might Go to Court

While most car accident cases are settled out-of-court, in some cases litigation and a trial may still be necessary.

Serious Injuries

If the victim suffers severe car accident injuries with long-term consequences, the insurance company’s initial settlement offer might not be sufficient to cover all the damages. This could include:

  • Permanent disability: This significantly impacts a person’s ability to work and earn a living, requiring ongoing financial support.
  • Chronic pain: Persistent pain can significantly reduce quality of life and necessitate long-term medical treatment.
  • Loss of function: Depending on the injury, victims might lose mobility or functionality in limbs or other body parts.
  • Extensive medical treatment: Severe injuries often require multiple surgeries, rehabilitation programs, and ongoing medical care, leading to substantial financial burdens.
  • Emotional trauma: Car accidents can cause significant emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety, requiring specialized therapy.

In such cases, legal action through a lawsuit might be necessary to secure the full compensation the victim deserves for their long-term physical, emotional, and financial losses.

Unreasonable Insurance

Insurance companies are always looking out for their bottom line, and they will avoid paying up if they think they can. The at-fault driver’s insurance company might act unfairly in several ways, such as:

  • Denying the claim altogether: Insurance companies may try to deny responsibility for the accident, even in clear cases of negligence that they should be covering.
  • Offering a lowball settlement: Insurance companies may hope you’ll take a quick payout, even if it’s much smaller than the true value of your damages.
  • Delaying tactics: Insurance companies may intentionally drag out the claims process, putting up miles of red tape and causing unnecessary stress and financial hardship for the victim.
  • The silent treatment: Lack of transparency and clear communication from the insurance company can hinder the settlement process.

When faced with such unreasonable behavior, taking legal action becomes crucial to hold the insurance company accountable and obtain fair compensation. Taking your claim to court may be the only way to recover the damages you’re fairly owed.

Uninsured Driver

If the driver who caused the accident lacks insurance, don’t panic–you can still recover compensation after an uninsured driver accident. Many states, like Florida, require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. That will take care of a large chunk of your damages.

However, your insurance may not fully reimburse you. In this case, a personal injury lawsuit can hold the motorist or their insurance carrier accountable for the damage they’ve caused.

Traffic Ticket Dispute

In some cases, you may want to dispute a traffic citation a police officer issued after the car accident. For example, you may believe the officer issued your ticket in error or that you were not at fault for the auto accident. In that situation, you may need to contest the ticket in court.

Compensation for Car Accident Victims

Car accidents are traumatic events that can leave victims struggling with serious physical injuries, mental health symptoms, and financial pressures. Depending on the severity of the auto accident and the resulting damages, car accident victims may be entitled to compensation for car accident damages such as:

  • Medical bills: This includes all past, present, and future medical expenses related to the accident. Expenses can include hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and ongoing treatment.
  • Lost wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and income.
  • Loss of earning capacity: In some cases, injuries can create a long-term or permanent disability, This may impact your ability to work and earn a living. Compensation may be awarded to reflect this loss of future earning potential.
  • Pain and suffering: This includes physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the accident and its aftermath.
  • Emotional distress: The emotional trauma associated with a car accident can be significant. Victims may be entitled to compensation for psychological treatment and therapy.
  • Property damage: You may qualify for compensation for damage to your vehicle or personal property caused by the auto accident.

The specific amount of compensation a victim receives will vary depending on the individual circumstances of the case. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected.

Additionally, a car accident attorney will make sure the insurance company considers all of your potential damages fairly. Their goal is to maximize your compensation for your car accident damages.

Seek Legal Help with WHG Regarding Your Car Accident Lawsuit

Whether or not your case ends up requiring a court appearance, protecting yourself after a car accident can be a frustrating and difficult process. In these difficult times, a Florida car accident attorney can be an invaluable ally.

WHG has extensive experience handling car accident cases and can help you:

  • Expert legal guidance: Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers can assess the specifics of your case, determine the best course of action, and guide you through the legal process.
  • Negotiation with insurance companies: We have a proven track record of successfully negotiating with insurance companies to secure fair settlements for our clients.
  • Maximize your compensation: We understand the financial burdens associated with car accidents and work diligently to ensure you receive the compensation you truly deserve for your losses.
  • Represent you in court: If your case does require a day in court, our skilled attorneys will represent your interests and fight for your rights.

Dealing with the complexities of the legal system can be overwhelming, especially in the aftermath of a car accident. At Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia, we understand what you’re going through. We have the skills and experience to help you through the trial process for a personal injury lawsuit.

Our team of Florida auto accident lawyers is ready to help you take the first steps toward recovery. Call us at (800) 320-HELP or contact us online to get started.


Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do immediately after a car accident?

After a car accident, prioritize safety: check for injuries and call 911 if needed. Exchange information with other drivers, including names, contact details, and insurance. Document the scene by taking photos of damage and injuries.

Finally, report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Florida?

In Florida, the general statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident is two years from the date of the accident. This means you have two years to file an auto accident lawsuit in court to seek compensation.

What happens if I was partially at fault for the car accident?

Florida follows a comparative negligence system. This means that even if you were partly responsible for the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. However, the court will reduced the amount based on your degree of fault. For example, if you were found 20% at fault, your compensation would be reduced by 20%.

No Win, No Fee Commitment

Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is committed to helping you rebuild your life after a hardship. We are not just your legal team—we are your allies, your partners, and your advocates. We will do everything we can to handle your case with compassion and care, and to get you the results you need!

“And for every fight we take on, know this…we are doing everything we can to make sure we win!”

— Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia

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About the Author

Adam Werner is a partner and practicing attorney at WHG. He specializes in personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims, and veteran disability benefits. He routinely writes about personal injury and workers comp topics for the Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia blog

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