Steps in a Car Accident Lawsuit
While our firm strives for resolution through settlement negotiations, we are not afraid to pursue your case in a court of law.
While used interchangeably when talking about seeking compensation after a car accident, there is a fundamental difference between filing a claim and a lawsuit. A claim is asking for monetary compensation for medical and/or property damages from the at fault driver. During this time, your attorney is determining how much insurance coverage is available and trying to negotiate a fair settlement with the defense.
As your car accident legal team, we will not accept a settlement that does not fairly represent the amount of damages that you incurred. If we are unable to reach a compromise that is in your best interest, then our recommendation is to file a lawsuit. In comparison with a claim, a lawsuit is when the evidence is heard by a third party who will make the final decision for who is at fault and what, if any, amount of compensation should be awarded.
Either party may file a motion to have the claim heard in civil court. A date will be set, and the parties will decide if they want a jury trial or if they would prefer that the judge hear the evidence and make the final decision.
One component of the lawsuit process is discovery. This is the time in which both parties must make sure that they are sharing all of their evidence with each other. Documentation that the defense has that was not presented to our team in a reasonable amount of time before the trial cannot be presented as evidence. This protects both parties by allowing them the time to investigate all of the evidence that is going to be presented before the trial begins.
Once all evidence has been presented and any witness testimony heard, it is up to the jury or judge to decide on who was at fault for the accident. If they agree that your accident was caused by the defendant then they will proceed to determine how much his insurance company should have to pay you for your damages.
Missouri allows for comparative negligence. This is when they can see where both sides were responsible for the accident. In this case, a percentage of fault will be assigned to you, and that percentage will also be applied to your compensation amount. If you are found to hold 10% of the blame for the accident and decide to award $100,000, you will generally receive 90% of that amount, or $90,000.
A jury trial can be difficult to navigate and something both parties usually try and avoid. While you may fear comparative negligence, the defense fears punitive damages. These are applied by a jury when they feel that a defendant was grossly reckless in causing the accident. These types of awards can cost a defendant and his insurance company hundreds of thousands of dollars.
St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers
While our team of St. Louis car accident lawyers strives for resolution of car accident claims through settlement negotiations, we are not afraid to pursue your case in a court of law. We know you are anxious to put this behind you, and could use that money towards paying off your hospital debt and moving forward in your life. Call The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. today if you have suffered any injuries in a recent car accident and need help in getting your car accident claim started.