Will I Have to Go to Court if I’ve Been Injured?
The legal team at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz handles various personal injury cases throughout Southern Maryland. Clients often question whether they will have to go to court to recover compensation for their injuries from a car accident or a slip and fall.
In almost every case, the answer is we don’t know if you’ll have to go to court to get compensation. While many cases settle, there are cases where it’s simply impossible to get fairly compensated without going to trial. If liability is seriously contested, an individual may get no recovery without going to trial.
A number of factors influence whether or not your case will go to trial. These include disputes over liability (who caused the accident), damages (how badly were you injured), and whether all of the claimed injuries are related to the accident.
When liability is disputed, the case will likely go to trial.
There may not often be a dispute over liability for the crash or event leading to the injury, but there will be a significant fight over the nature and extent of the injury. When clients have pre-existing health conditions, such as arthritis or a previous injury, it may make it more likely that a case will have to go to court.
If a lawsuit is filed, it can be months – even a year or more – before your case goes to trial. The delay between filing a suit and going to trial is primarily because of the discovery process. The discovery process allows the plaintiff and defendant to exchange information about the case, such as who the witnesses will be and what evidence will be presented. During this time, the attorneys may take depositions or request that a plaintiff be examined by a doctor chosen by the defendant.
As the discovery process plays out, both sides learn more about their opponent’s case and their case. What is learned in discovery affects the value of the claims.
Typically, the value of a personal injury case will increase as it gets closer to trial. A personal injury claim’s “settlement value” will be at its highest right before, or even during, the trial.
Whether to settle the case is always up to the client. We give guidance based on our experience and expectations if the case goes to trial, but we can only predict what will happen based on past results. We can’t guarantee a result.
If a case goes to trial, it’s typically because the parties, or their attorneys, have different expectations about the results.
In some cases, it makes sense to settle. We provide a settlement range for your case when we make a settlement demand, usually before filing a lawsuit on your behalf. If an offer is made within the settlement range, accepting it may be a good idea.
If no offer is made within the settlement range, we usually advise pursuing the case to trial. We may reassess the settlement value of your case as we learn more facts about your case.
In cases where there is disputed liability, there may not be a settlement offer. In those cases, the answer is “Yes. You must go to court if you’ve been injured and wish to recover.” In cases where liability is not disputed, we can often settle the case without going to trial.
Our willingness to take a case to trial has earned us a good reputation. Insurance companies know that when they get a demand from us, we will work hard to get the best possible outcome for our clients. We don’t like to leave money on the table.
How do I prepare for a court trial?
Going to trial is not as scary as it sounds when an experienced attorney is advocating for you.
While you likely will not have to go to trial, being ready will help secure a better settlement.
Before your trial, we’ll prepare you for court. You’ll meet with the attorney handling your case and practice your testimony. We’ll explain what to expect in court and how the process works.
You’ll cover the questions with your lawyer before you testify in court, so there won’t be surprises.
We can’t always predict exactly what question the defendant’s attorney will ask, but we can address potential issues in your case about which you might be asked. We will have a good idea of what points they will try to make at trial and what potential weaknesses with your case they may seek to exploit.
We can address the specifics of your case when we meet to prepare for trial.
In our experience, many clients achieve better results after a trial than they could if they choose to settle out of court. We’ve tried many cases in which the jury verdict was significantly higher than the last offer made by the insurance company.
Going to court might be necessary in your case to secure the monetary compensation you deserve for your injuries. The only way to know is to allow us to assess your case.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz can assist you if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation for any injury-related claim. The law offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz handle accident and injury claims throughout Maryland.