If you file a personal injury lawsuit in SC after being injured in a car accident, your case probably will not go to trial - but, you and your attorney must be prepared and ready to try your case.
Insurance companies will usually settle out of court, and, if you are lucky - very lucky - they might make an early offer that's fair and fully compensates you.
It's more likely, though, that the insurance company will try to settle for as little money as possible. Unfortunately, many car crash victims accept the first offer the insurance company makes, and this leaves them struggling to come up with the money to pay their mounting medical bills, make up for their lost earnings, and repair or replace their vehicle.
You don't have to do this. If the insurance company tries to shortchange you in a settlement, your SC personal injury attorney should be ready to take them to trial. That's the last thing insurance companies want because they know that 1) trials cost money; and 2) if a jury determines that they are liable, the damages may be significantly more than they offered as a settlement.
Reasons Not to Go to Trial in a Car Wreck Case
Make no mistake - taking your case to trial will not be a pleasant experience.
Preparing for a trial is stressful. Sitting in a courtroom when you could be resting and healing is stressful. Although many car wreck trials take only a few days, it could go on for weeks in a complex case.
You could lose the trial - jurors are unpredictable. On the other hand, you could win a landmark, record verdict - and then wait years to get paid as your case makes its way through the appellate courts.
Despite all of this, if the defendant or their insurance company does not pay, trial may be the only option for you to get paid full and fair compensation.
What Happens if My Auto Accident Case Goes to Trial?
Here is a quick summary of what will happen if your case goes to trial:
- Jury selection: The jury will be chosen from a large pool of potential jurors. During a process called "voir dire," the judge will ask the potential jurors questions to determine if they have biases that will prevent them from being impartial.
- Opening arguments: Each attorney will give the jury an overview of the case, and your attorney will urge jurors to decide in your favor, giving them a preview of why the defendant is liable and how much they need to pay.
- Plaintiff's presentation of evidence: Your attorney will present your side of the case first, because, as the plaintiff, you have the burden of proving your claim. Your attorney will also call on witnesses, which may include medical professionals, eyewitnesses, accident reconstructionists, and economists.
- Defendant's presentation of evidence: The insurance company's attorneys will call their own witnesses to try to convince the jury that the at-fault driver should not be held liable, or at the very least that you should not be awarded the amount you have asked for.
- Closing arguments: Once all the evidence has been presented, each attorney will recap - closing argument is your attorney's last opportunity to persuade jurors that you should be fully compensated.
- Deliberation: The jury leaves the courtroom and decides whether the defendant is liable and how much you should get paid. Jurors may take an hour or two, or they may deliberate for several days before reaching a verdict.
- Verdict: When they have reached a decision, the jury will return to the courtroom, and the clerk will read the verdict.
Your Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team will work hard to settle your car wreck case and ensure that you are fully compensated, but, when the insurance company does not pay, we are also going to be ready for trial. Call today at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form to set up a free initial consultation to discuss your case.