Most of us had, or will become involved, in a car accident at some point in our lives. When you get involved in a car accident because of another driver and you suffer personal injury or property damage, you can file a claim for damages. While the majority of these claims settle out of court, instances in which a claim needs to settle in court do exist. When the at-fault driver’s insurance company makes an offer of settlement, you can either accept or deny it. Other times, the injured person’s lawyer negotiates a better settlement with the other driver’s insurance company’s lawyer. If neither of these offers or negotiations seem favorable or acceptable, the claim goes to court before a judge and jury.
Filing the Car Accident Lawsuit
After a thorough investigation into the accident, your attorney drafts a motion to file with the court, in which he or she names all the parties involved in a formal fashion. He or she does not name the insurance companies in the lawsuit, and the other party has 30 days to respond to the allegations.
‘Discovery’ refers to the process of both parties using a series of tools to find out as much pertinent information regarding the case as possible. Discovery tools include interrogatories, depositions, requests to produce, and requests for more information from the other party. These tools are designed to determine the strength and weaknesses inherent in the case. Often during discovery, new information comes to light, which furthers the negotiations to settle.
Trial Prep, Jury Selection and Opening Statements
Prepping for the trial is done by the legal professionals interviewing witnesses, collecting and reviewing evidence, finding experts, prepping trial exhibits, and doing legal research.
When all the prep is done and the case is ready for trial, the legal team selects a jury. Both sides ask the jurors questions to determine whether that juror gets approved. The questions determine if any jurors exhibit prejudice or bias, because that would not result in an impartial verdict. Once the jury is in place and the trial begins, each side makes an opening statement explaining their side to the jury, and the trial proceeds from there.
Knowing what happens when a car accident claim goes to court helps prepare you for what filing a car accident lawsuit entails. If you find yourself in this situation, go to court with help from a Washington car accident attorney.