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Do I Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

March 17, 2024 Legal Team

After a car accident, the prospect of going to court can seem overwhelming. In most car crash cases, though, litigation is not required. Whether you have to head into a courtroom hinges on many different factors. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common factors that influence whether you must go to court.

Do I Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident

Dispute Over Fault

If the parties involved in the accident have conflicting accounts of what took place and cannot come to an agreement on who bears responsibility, it becomes more likely that you will need to go to court. At trial, evidence is presented before a judge or jury, who then decides on fault.

Severe Injuries

In instances where injuries resulting from an accident are severe with significant long-term effects, there might be substantial disagreement between insurers or at-fault parties about fair compensation. 

When insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the costs associated with major injuries, a lawsuit may be necessary to fight for appropriate damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, future medical costs, and any other losses caused by the accident.

Lack of Insurance

If you’re involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it complicates the process of obtaining compensation for damages and injuries. In such cases, if your own insurance policy doesn’t fully cover your losses or if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, seeking compensation directly from the at-fault party in court may be necessary.

However, uninsured drivers may not have sufficient assets to pay out-of-pocket for damages they caused – this is often why they lacked proper insurance – so pursuing legal action won’t always produce the compensation you’re entitled to.

Statute of Limitations Approaching

Every state has set time limits – known as statutes of limitations – within which you must file a lawsuit after an accident or injury. In Arizona, for instance, you generally have two years from the date of the car accident to initiate legal proceedings (with some exceptions).

If negotiations with insurance companies linger and this deadline is fast approaching without a settlement being reached, taking legal action by filing a lawsuit may become critical. If you wait too long, you won’t be able to file a lawsuit, which will prevent you from seeking compensation for your injuries and damages at all. 

By filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you protect your right to pursue legal remedies, even as settlement talks continue. If an agreement is reached after filing but before the trial, the case can still be settled out of court.

Multiple Parties Involved

In car crashes involving multiple parties, sorting out liability and compensation can be complex. Many questions arise over who exactly was at fault and to what extent each party contributed to the accident. Additionally, each driver’s insurance company will likely get involved, which further complicates the process because there are more people who have to come to an agreement over what happened.

Most Car Accident Cases Settle Out of Court

Despite the potential complications, most car accident cases are resolved through settlement negotiations without ever going to trial. This is often due to the time, expense, and uncertainty associated with court proceedings – for both plaintiffs and defendants. Settlements offer a more predictable outcome and can be faster than a lengthy court case.

If there’s a chance your car accident case might end up going to court, it’s important that you work with an experienced Mesa accident attorney. Consulting with a legal professional not only provides clarity on your situation but also ensures that you’re taking the appropriate steps to give you the best chance of recovering the compensation you truly deserve. If you need help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.