Do I Have to Go to Court for a Personal Injury Claim?
Sustaining an injury can be an incredibly stressful experience, particularly if the injury was caused by the actions of another individual or entity in California. In these situations, injury victims should be able to recover compensation through an insurance settlement or a civil personal injury lawsuit. However, will you actually have to go to court in order to receive compensation?
Insurance Carriers and Their Role
The vast majority of personal injury claims in California are resolved through settlements between injury victims and the insurance carriers involved. In many cases, an insurance claim gets filed and settled within a few weeks or a few months after the actual incident.
There are a few benefits to settling a claim with insurance carriers. First, this helps avoid the costly expense of filing a lawsuit and going to trial. Second, insurance settlements typically happen much faster than jury trial verdicts. In other words, injured individuals will typically be able to recover compensation for their losses much faster if the claim is settled with an insurance carrier.
However, insurance carriers often put up a fight when having to pay out compensation. They could deny the claim altogether or significantly limit how much compensation they pay an injury victim. When this happens, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party and the insurance carrier.
Civil Personal Injury Lawsuits
In California, individuals have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party to recover compensation for injuries. However, these lawsuits are typically filed long before the statute of limitations expires.
Even after a lawsuit gets filed, this does not necessarily mean that individuals will end up in the courtroom. When a lawsuit is initiated, this typically starts the discovery process where attorneys for the injury victim and the defendant exchange information with one another. Both sides will continue investigations, and they will also negotiate throughout the process if information comes to light to push one side or the other towards settling the claim. In some cases, a judge may order mediation between the two parties (overseen by a third-party mediator).
Again, most injury claims do not make it to trial. The only way that you will have to go to court for your personal injury case is if the other side refuses to offer a fair settlement amount or continues to deny the claim. When that happens, you need to go in front of a jury to make your case, which means you will indeed have to go to court. Jury trials usually do not happen until well over a year after the initial accident, but this will vary depending on the jurisdiction and how crowded the court docket is.
Working With a Lawyer
We strongly encourage you to work with a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience handling insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. A lawyer will look out for your best interests and help guide you towards the best path for recovering maximum compensation for your losses.