An Insider’s View of What Happens When Your Case Doesn’t Settle
So, your lawyer could not negotiate a settlement of your automobile accident or slip and fall claim with the insurance carrier for the person or entity who caused your injuries. So, what happens when your case doesn’t settle?
First, you should be aware that a vast majority of personal injury claims do settle out of court. One source puts the number of cases that actually go to trial at four to five percent. Your attorney will likely try to avoid the expense and time of filing a lawsuit. Of course, your best interests will always be primary.
Most of us have not been involved in litigation before, and therefore don’t know the process involved or what to expect. Here’s a guideline for some of the things which may occur. Keep in mind that while your case could be settled at any time, most cases will move forward through the courts once it is in their hands.
Once your lawsuit has been filed, the defendant has certain time constraints in which to file an answer with the court. In many cases, this will be done by a law firm retained by the insurance company.
The initial step in litigation is called discovery. During that time, information will be exchanged between your lawyer and the insurance company’s attorney. You will be asked to provide written answers to a series of questions about how the accident happened, what injuries you suffered and how they have affected your life, including you daily activities, ability to care for yourself and work, and athletic or social participation. These questions are known as interrogatories. They may appear cumbersome, but your failure to answer them could jeopardize your case.
You will also be requested to sign authorization forms to permit the insurance lawyer to obtain copies of the records of your injury treatment, your family doctor(s) records, as well as records for treatment of any prior injuries.
Meanwhile, you will be scheduled for a deposition. This is a meeting during which the attorney for the insurance company will have an opportunity to ask you more detailed questions about all of the information which has been provided to them. A court reporter is present and captures the dialogue so that a transcript records the proceedings.
Be aware that as a consequence of the involvement of several people’s schedules, the deposition can be rescheduled multiple times. While not at all unusual, a little patience here will pay off in the end. You should also know that your attendance at the deposition is mandatory.
Once discovery is completed, the case will move to arbitration. This is a hearing held by the court in front of another lawyer, designated as the arbitrator. This individual is experienced in handling claims like yours. Most likely, the hearing will go forward as scheduled unless someone involved has a conflict.
At the hearing, the arbitrator will review information submitted by both parties, determine who was most at fault for the accident and provide a written money value for your injuries and damages. If neither party objects to that decision within 30 days, the case will be settled for that amount. Otherwise, the case will go to trial.
Finally, because the trial is scheduled by the court, neither lawyer has any control over the date of the hearing. You should know that few cases actually proceed to trial on the first date. This is because many cases are listed for hearing by the court. However, older cases will be heard first which means your case will likely be rescheduled.
Be mindful that this can also happen numerous times and can similarly require some patience. Ultimately, if the case still hasn’t been settled, you will have your day in court to tell your story to a jury.
If you have been injured in an automobile or slip and fall accident, we suggest meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if you are eligible for any kind of compensation as a result of your injuries. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have decades of experience handling all types of personal injury cases. Contact us for a complimentary appointment to discuss your case.