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What Are the Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit?

car accident

If you have been injured in a Charlotte, NC car accident, you have two options. You can either file a claim of damages with the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurer. Or you can launch a lawsuit to recover a fair compensation. Both options are available only when your crash-related injuries were caused by the other driver. A Charlotte car accident lawyer can help you decide how to proceed after a crash.

North Carolina has a pure contributory negligence law in place. This means that even when the negligence of the other driver is very clear, you may be barred from recovering damages. This is possible if the other party can show that you were even 1% at fault in causing the crash. Insurance companies and at-fault drivers can use this law to their favor and reject your claim. The only option you then have is to launch a lawsuit.

A car accident lawsuit works differently than a claim for damages. The claim is typically filed and processed by an insurance company. The company has the right to accept or reject your claim. In contrast, a lawsuit brings a dispute into the legal domain. In other words, the matter goes in front of a court and is adjudicated by a judge or jury.

It is important to fully understand how a car accident lawsuit works before you file one. Being informed and prepared will significantly improve your odds of winning the lawsuit.

Pre-Litigation

This is the stage that involves various activities before a lawsuit can be filed. During this stage, you should typically expect to undertake the following:

  • Consultation with a lawyer: You will need to consult a qualified lawyer if you are considering bringing a lawsuit. Even if the claim is negotiated before a lawsuit is filed, a good lawyer will help you secure a favorable deal.
  • Investigation: Before you and your lawyer can negotiate with an insurer, you will need to conduct your own crash investigations. Your lawyer may do so by gathering CCTV footage, police report, photos and videos, witness statements and other evidence.
  • Negotiation: Now that you have legal help and the relevant evidence, you can begin negotiations with the insurer. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may accept your claim, reject it, or seek to negotiate an amount that is lower than what you demanded. If you have a solid body of evidence, it is very likely that the insurer will settle the car accident claim out of court.

Litigation

When negotiations with an insurance company fail to achieve a favorable outcome, you proceed to the litigation phase. During this stage, you file the lawsuit and bring the matter into the domain of a legal court. This stage involves:

  • Filing the lawsuit: Filing a car accident lawsuit involves a lot of formal tasks. These include submitting a filing fee, submitting the complaint and related paperwork, and then serving the defendant with a copy of the complaint. Once you file the lawsuit, the litigation phase formally begins.
  • Discovery: The filing of the lawsuit is followed by the discovery phase. During this stage, both parties are able to request information and evidence from each other. You are obligated under law to provide all information and evidence you have to the other party. The other party likewise has the same obligation towards you. Discovery also involves deposition where one side may question the other side and record the responses.
  • Mediation: Before the actual trial can begin, the law stipulates one last attempt to settle the dispute out of court. This is typically in the form of a mediation conference. At the conference, you sit down with the representatives of the at-fault party’s insurer. A mediator attempts to bring both sides to an agreement.

Trial

If negotiations and mediation attempts with the insurer fail, your case proceeds to a formal trial. This is conducted in front of a judge and a jury. Both sides present their viewpoint and evidence at a formal court hearing. At the end of the trial, the judge makes a decision. If you get a favorable decision, you are eligible to receive damages right away. If the decision is against you, you have the option of appealing it at a higher court.

How Can a Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Help?

As noted above, the process of negotiating with an insurance company after a crash can be a daunting experience. If the negotiations fail and you have to file a lawsuit, you simply can’t do it without professional legal help.

Here at Ted Greve & Associates, our lawyers negotiate with the insurer on your behalf. We strive to secure a favorable out of court settlement for your claim. Failing that, we put a robust effort into launching a lawsuit to get a favorable verdict from the court. Get in touch today to discuss your Charlotte car crash claim with our lawyers.