Do You Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

If a negligent driver hits you and you suffer injuries, you may be wondering if you have to go to court for a car accident? Sometimes, the insurance company for the at-fault driver may attempt to settle with you before the case reaches a trial. However, if negotiations break down, the case may end up in court.

Reasons Why a Personal Injury Case may go to Court

If you are injured in a car crash that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, reduction in quality of life, pain, and suffering. You may need to file a lawsuit to begin the process. According to the Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 5-101, there is a three-year statute of limitations to start proceedings against the negligent party. There are multiple reasons you may end up in court after filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, including:

Refusal to Settle

Some personal injury cases are settled out of court during negotiations. By avoiding a court trial, the insurance company may be able to save money on attorney and court fees. However, the other driver’s insurance company may choose to halt negotiations with you, deciding a court trial could deliver them a better result. Other times, the insurer may refuse to make a fair settlement offer and attempt to convince you to take a lower amount than what you may be entitled to for your injuries and long-term diagnoses. You and an attorney can argue you may be entitled to a higher settlement amount using facts gathered in an investigation. These facts could convince the insurer to increase its settlement offer, giving you a better chance of receiving a fair reimbursement and avoiding a trial.

Dispute Over Injury Severity

It is possible that the insurance company may refuse to come to a settlement because it does not believe your injuries are as severe as you claim they are. In a situation like this, the insurance company may believe a judge or jury will refuse to believe the severity of your injuries, which would result in a smaller settlement amount that favors the insurance company.

Not Enough Coverage

In the state of Maryland, drivers must carry a minimum insurance coverage that includes protection against three situations. According to AAA’s Teen Driver Safety Guide, these include:
  • $30,000/$60,000 Liability coverage
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
If the driver who hits you does not have insurance coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage can cover the expenses for your injuries. However, you also have the right to take the uninsured driver to court and attempt to seek compensation you may be entitled to from his or her personal assets. A personal injury attorney can help you decide whether suing for personal assets has a chance at success.

No Police Report

It is possible that the police did not investigate your accident, perhaps because it occurred on private property or because you did not realize the extent of your injuries in the aftermath of the crash. This is a rare occurrence in serious accident cases, but if it does occur you may need to sue the other driver due to a lack of concrete evidence for settlement negotiations.

Assigning of Fault Is Unclear

If police did investigate the accident, but the officers were unable to figure out which driver was at fault, you may need to take the case to court to try to prove that the other driver’s actions caused the crash and resulted in your injuries. Maryland is one of four states that uses contributory negligence laws, meaning a claimant may be entitled to no compensation if they were even one percent responsible for the accident.

Let Our Team Represent Your Interests in Negotiations

If you hire an attorney to represent your interests in a car crash lawsuit, he or she can help negotiate with the other driver’s insurer to reach a fair settlement. If the insurance company makes an offer that you feel is adequate for your pain and suffering, you can accept it and end the case. However, you may have to go to court for a car accident if the insurance company does not come to a fair settlement during the negotiation phase. The team from the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow can help you reach the fairest possible settlement in your case. We can represent your interests during the initial negotiations with the insurer, and can stand by your side during a court case if necessary. Call us at (410) 877-6021 for a free consultation.