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

Whether or not you have to go to court after a car accident occurs will depend on several factors related to your particular incident. Even though the vast majority of car accident claims in California are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers, there are certain instances when a person may have to go to court to ensure they recover compensation for their losses. Additionally, if you have been accused of causing a car accident, you may end up in court defending yourself.

Will Your Case be Handled by an Insurance Carrier?

Most car accident claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. This certainly does simplify the process, because if every car accident claim had to go to court, the court system would become clogged and reach a standstill. 

However, insurance carriers are notoriously difficult to deal with. These are for-profit entities for the most part, which means they will do anything they can to limit how much compensation they payout in a settlement. There are various reasons why it may be necessary to file a civil personal injury lawsuit after our car accident occurs, which is the first step towards getting the case into the court system.

Why Would a Car Accident Claim go to Court?

A civil personal injury lawsuit in California is a complex process. First, it is crucial for car accident victims to make sure that they file their lawsuit within two years from the date the crash occurs, per the California personal injury statute of limitations.

Some of the main reasons why it may become necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident include:

  • If the insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement
  • If the insurance carrier denies the claim altogether
  • If the at-fault party’s insurance policy limits are too low to cover the losses
  • If the other driver has no insurance at all

When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, it still does not mean that the case is going to have to go all the way to a jury trial. A case will first enter the discovery phase, which is when both sides will continue investigations and exchange evidence with one another. During this process, it is not uncommon for attorneys on both sides to continue negotiations and attempt to reach a settlement. Only if the two sides cannot come to an agreement will the case have to go to a jury trial. This can take some time to occur. It is not uncommon for a jury to hear a case about a car accident that happened years prior.

Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?

If you or somebody you love has been injured or sustained property damage in a car accident in California, we strongly recommend that you work with an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you are positive that your case will be resolved through a settlement with an insurance carrier, an attorney can still help you maximize your compensation returned. A Newport Beach car accident lawyer will conduct a complete investigation into your crash and gather any evidence that can prove liability. Your attorney will be the one to handle all communication and negotiations with other parties involved.