Were you recently injured in Hastings, Nebraska in a car accident caused by another party? You probably are wondering what the next steps are. The aftermath of a car accident can be confusing, but things can get sorted out quickly with the help of an attorney.
Your options after getting injured in a car accident include the following:
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Settle Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Most people decide to settle their car accident claim before they file a personal injury lawsuit. One estimate is that up to 97% of civil cases settle before trial. There are several reasons for settling:
You can receive compensation faster.
If you have injuries and lost work time, you probably need money. Settling with the insurance company can get you the money you need in a few weeks or even faster.
You can avoid high attorney’s fees.
Attorneys are expensive, and the longer a case goes, the more you will pay. But most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you would only pay at the end of the case out of the settlement proceeds.
You can avoid going to court.
A lawsuit involves going to court several times, and the case could drag on for weeks. If you want to get on with your life, focus on your recovery, and get back to work, a settlement can be tempting.
You can avoid an unpredictable jury.
Every attorney can tell you that even when a car accident case seems clear cut, juries are unpredictable. It is possible to go to court and lose, leaving you with no compensation. Much depends on how effective your attorney is in court and how well you come across as a believable witness.
Your attorney will draft a demand letter once he understands what your damages are. The demand letter will go to the other driver’s attorney and the insurance company. This is often the formal start of settlement negotiations.
There is a lot of evidence gathering that needs to be done before your attorney drafts the demand letter. You need to collect all of your medical bills and records from the medical professionals who treated you.
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If you missed work time, you need to provide documents of how much you missed and your hourly rate or monthly salary. Also, collect information that shows evidence of liability, such as the police report and photographs.
Once all of that information is collected, your attorney will write a detailed demand letter that contains your version of events, the damages you suffered, and the amount of compensation you want to settle the case.
Going to Court
There are cases where settlement negotiations fail, or the insurance company simply will not pay the case value your attorney thinks you deserve. In these situations, your attorney may recommend going to court.
Also, some plaintiffs who have suffered severe injuries want their day in court and do not want to settle. This also could be worthwhile if you have serious injuries that require more compensation.
Some insurance companies are stingy in their settlement negotiations, so going to court may be your last option to get them to pay.
The first step in the trial process is discovery. This is where your attorney requests information from the other driver, and he will do the same from you. Your attorney will obtain information from the other driver by requesting documents and asking questions, called interrogatories. Your attorney also may do depositions, which are sworn statements under oath. This testimony is recorded and can be used during the trial.
Once discovery is done, the trial is the last step. However, settlement negotiations can continue until the judge or jury renders a verdict.
The decision to settle or go to trial is ultimately yours, but your attorney will advise you on your best legal options in their professional opinion.