According to a recent article, only around 5 percent of car accident cases are resolved by a trial verdict. Most cases, up to 95 percent, are resolved by settlement. However, there is an art to settlement negotiations, and a skilled personal injury attorney knows that the first offer is often not in a client’s best interest.
In fact, sometimes the best leverage in negotiations is demonstrating a party’s readiness for trial. As the pleadings (complaint and answer), the parties engage in civil discovery. This is when subpoenas may be used to gather evidence from third parties about the crash. An attorney may visit the scene to see if other evidence is available, such as skid marks or traffic cam footage. If there were witnesses to the accident, the parties have an opportunity to take their depositions in this discovery phase.
There is also a second prong to a successful car accident case: damages. From the very first visit to the doctor after the accident, the plaintiff should be making a record of visits, diagnoses, and recording his or her symptoms and pain and suffering. An attorney can also request medical documents that, when factored with the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, can be a basis for quantifying the amount of damages requested.
After the close of discovery, the plaintiff’s attorney may find it strategic to prepare a motion for summary judgment in which he or she will cite the evidence that establishes the defendant’s liability, or negligence, in causing the crash.
If the case has not settled after the discovery and motions stages, the parties will proceed to a pretrial conference. Keep in mind that settlements may occur at any time before the verdict, even during a trial. Hence, building a strong case and showing litigation assertiveness is essential throughout the entire case.
Source: The Urban Twist, “Will an Auto Accident Attorney Settle My Claim or Take it to Court?” Jonah Carte, Apr. 19, 2019