As attorneys who regularly practice and represent clients in car accident cases here in Rhode Island, one of the most common questions we receive from clients is how we will decide whether to settle or go to court for a given auto accident case. Below, we discuss some of the pros and cons when it comes to each option for every car accident case:
First, Make Sure You Are OK, Medically Speaking
First and foremost, if you have been in an auto accident, the most important thing you should be thinking about is making sure you are OK and receive medical attention. Keep in mind this is not only essential for your health and safety, but also for any claim you may eventually want to bring. Unfortunately, waiting too long provides the opposing party (and their insurance company) the opportunity to argue that any injuries or health issues you’ve experienced are not related to the actual accident. Note that these medical visits need to include documentation of absolutely everything, especially any and all expenses, bills, and payments.
Initially Evaluating the Case
Once that you have made sure that you are OK, speaking with a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss what to do next is advisable. After meeting with you, your attorney will review all of the facts and information associated with your potential case and will advise you on whether to attempt to settle the case out-of-court or file a lawsuit based upon the facts of your case, the law, and your chances of winning.
Maximum Medical Improvement, Demands, and Settlement
If the decision is to attempt to settle and avoid going to court, you and your attorney will engage in making a demand. This demand is based upon the total that your case is worth based on maximum medical improvement. This essentially means that you and your attorney will know how much compensation you need once you are aware of all of the medical bills related to your current injury and how it will affect your future.
Unable to Agree? You May Be Going to Court
Your attorney will then discuss your demand with the responsible party, which often includes their insurance company. If the parties cannot agree upon a settlement amount, then bringing a lawsuit may be necessary. If a lawsuit is brought, the parties will engage in what is known as “discovery,” whereby each side does what is necessary to “discover” all of the facts necessary to go to trial, including documents, witness reports police reports, and other important information.
- Below are some general reasons why your case might head to court
- When the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree upon who was responsible
- When the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree upon a fair compensation amount
- When the plaintiff believes that it is necessary to go to court to receive enough compensation and do justice
Still, there are also some reasons why you may want to hesitate about going to court. Reasons such as:
Keeping the facts of the case and the accident out of the public eye;
Receiving compensation more quickly, as trials can go on for a significant amount of time; and
Going to court never provides a guarantee that you will win.
Other Options: Arbitration & Mediation
A very small percentage of personal injury claims actually become formal lawsuits. Other options–aside from going to court–include entering into arbitration, whereby an arbitrator makes a decision based on the hearing between the plaintiff and defendant, as well as mediation, whereby settlement negotiations are facilitated by a mediator, with both parties being represented by their attorneys. While arbitration is binding, mediation is not.
Contact Our Rhode Island Accident Attorneys to Find Out More
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident here in Rhode Island due to negligence, contact our experienced auto accident attorneys today to find out how we can help.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.