When to Bring a Car Accident Case to Court
Statistically, most car accident cases are settled out of court. However, when there is a dispute that can’t be resolved, a trial may be necessary. Before you decide to settle or go to court, it helps to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both settling and going to trial. Let’s take a closer look at options to seek compensation after a car accident in Florida.
Florida At-Fault Laws: Can You File a Personal Injury Case?
Florida is an at-fault state, meaning that regardless of who actually caused the accident, each party files a claim with their own insurance company for medical costs and financial damages. However, this doesn’t cover all types of damages that can be incurred in an accident.
For example, vehicle damage claims don’t fall under at-fault laws. You can file a liability claim against the other party’s insurance for the cost to repair your vehicle. You may also be able to file an insurance or personal injury claim for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, if the accident is determined as “serious” under state law. That may apply if injuries resulting from the accident caused any of the following:
- Bone fracture or fractures
- Full disability for at least 90 days
- Significant impairment or limited use of an organ or body part
Settling Out of Court
Regardless of whether you're dealing with your insurance company, a third party's insurance, or an individual, settling out of court is faster, incurs lower legal costs, and avoids all the rigors of a trial. On the downside, the settlement amount may be smaller. Insurance companies often attempt to close out cases for the lowest figure possible.
Before accepting a settlement offer, it’s always best to consult with a personal injury attorney who can advise you throughout the negotiation process. They can also offer guidance on when taking the case to court may result in better terms.
When Settlement Fails: Taking a Car Accident Case to Court
There are two primary reasons to take a car accident case to court: unfair settlement offers or disputes over who is at fault.
The first reason is fairly self-explanatory. If you and the relevant insurance company can’t reach an acceptable resolution, the only other option is to go to court. This reasoning can apply to any car accident, even if it falls under at-fault laws.
The second motivation for going to trial is more complicated. While Florida is an at-fault state, in cases that fall outside at-fault laws, determining fault is still relevant, and one or both parties may disagree on who is to blame or to what degree.
Florida follows comparative negligence laws, meaning the other party may argue you were partially to blame for the accident. In that case, your compensation could be reduced by a percentage equivalent to your portion of the liability. Given this, having an experienced accident injury lawyer is particularly crucial if liability is in dispute.
Get Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Lakewood Ranch
If you were involved in a car accident, reach out to our skilled accident injury attorneys at Erjavec Injury Law. Whether you choose to settle or go to court, we’ll be at your side every step of the way. Fill out our contact form or call us at 941-907-1133 for a consultation today.