Being injured in a car accident is traumatic enough without fighting for fair compensation. But when insurance providers dispute fault or offer inadequate settlements, pursuing damages through litigation becomes the only recourse. The complexities can feel overwhelming between proving liability, calculating losses, navigating court processes, and reaching settlements.
It is easy to feel powerless against insurance companies and their teams of lawyers. However, a South Carolina car accident lawyer can help you handle litigation so you can focus on recovering. It is important to know that you have options and have the right to seek maximum compensation if claims are wrongfully denied or minimized.
Common Reasons a Car Accident Case Goes to Court
While most car accident claims settle out of court through insurance negotiations, some scenarios commonly lead to injured parties filing personal injury lawsuits and seeking damages through litigation. South Carolina requires drivers to have a minimum of $25,000 per person for insurance and $50,000 for every person injured in an accident. However, If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit is inadequate to fully compensate for damages, victims may sue for additional recovery from the driver personally based on excess costs.
Lawsuits become necessary when the defendant refuses to negotiate reasonably or makes unacceptably low offers that do not adequately compensate the plaintiff’s losses. If good faith settlement negotiations reach a disagreement, pursuing a trial verdict becomes the only reasonable option left for the injured party to potentially recover sufficient damages. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is possible in these cases but certainly not ideal for either party.
Plaintiffs might rightfully choose to litigate if injuries significantly worsen over time following the accident. They could also do this if additional damages like extensive lost wages and vocational impairment accumulate after initial offers were made. A South Carolina personal injury attorney can help decide whether rejecting an offer in favor of taking a case to trial is the best choice in certain situations where losses escalate.
Steps in the Car Accident Lawsuit Process
If you file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, a general litigation process occurs as the case progresses toward trial or settlement. Understanding the sequence of events provides expectations. The first step is your attorney filing the initial complaint that outlines allegations and requests damages.
The defendant then files an answer responding to claims. Next, information gathering, called discovery, includes depositions, documents, and evidence collection. This lengthy discovery process aims to unearth all relevant facts, documentation, and evidence from both sides about the accident circumstances and damages resulting from injuries.
As the trial date approaches, negotiations may occur. The court could also consider pretrial motions, such as dismissing the case or excluding certain evidence. Jury selection proceeds once the trial starts, followed by opening statements, testimony, cross-examination, and closing arguments before jury deliberation.
How to Build a Strong Liability Case for Litigation
If a car accident lawsuit becomes necessary, proving the defendant’s liability and negligence is key to recovering damages. Thorough evidence establishes fault. Having all the documentation makes it easier to prove who is liable.
Some of the most important proofs you should have for your case are police reports, photos of property damage, accident recreation reports, and witness statements. Video footage from traffic cameras or nearby businesses can also show fool-proof evidence. It is hard to deny a video of the incident, so if you have this footage, it can be one of the most powerful parts of your case.
Collecting proof of contributing factors strengthens the case, like records showing the at-fault driver was texting or intoxicated at the time. If available, vehicle telematics data and Event Data Recorder (EDR) downloads provide technical evidence. Working with accident reconstruction experts can provide in-depth forensic analysis, bringing thorough evidence to your case.
Maximize Compensation through a Car Accident Settlement
While car accident lawsuits seek court-ordered damages through litigation, many personal injury cases are resolved through negotiated settlements outside court between the involved parties. The goal is to reach a mutually agreeable amount of compensation for damages without undergoing a lengthy trial. Various methods can be used to maximize settlement offers and avoid leaving money on the table.
Thorough preparation strengthens leverage by presenting evidence of liability and damages through detailed reports, documentation, eyewitness accounts, and accident recreations. Showing readiness and confidence to proceed to trial if needed also puts pressure on at-fault parties. Showing you are willing to go through litigation can sometimes motivate the other party to reach a settlement.
During negotiations, the injured party can fight for fair compensation to recover losses. This can mean the party may turn down unreasonably low offers while justifying greater damages. Pointing out the risks and uncertainties a trial presents for both sides is leverage for reasonable settlement terms.
How to Know When to Go to Court Vs. Settle
After a car accident, whether to settle with the insurance provider or pursue court-awarded damages involves weighing several factors. An attorney can advise on the best route. If the insurer makes reasonable settlement offers covering medical bills, lost wages, and injury suffering, settling may make sense to receive compensation relatively quickly and avoid litigation costs.
However, if offers seem unreasonably low or liability is disputed, heading to court may be necessary. Filing a lawsuit is needed if injuries and losses exceed insurance coverage limits. This allows you to personally sue the at-fault driver for excess damages. However, court cases take considerable time and evidence to pursue compensation.
An attorney can help you with your case by weighing factors like time, costs, and evidence strength. It is a complex case to deal with on your own. Having a lawyer on your side can drastically increase your chances of winning your case.
You Do Not Have to Go through Your Case Alone
If you were injured in a car accident and insurance settlement offers are not meeting your expectations, our team is ready to help. Contact our team for a free consultation to discuss your options. We will aggressively help maximize compensation through settlement negotiations or litigation if necessary.