Following a car wreck, you might think, “Do I Have to Go to Court if I Bring an Auto Injury Claim?” In Florida, bringing an auto injury claim does not always require going to court. Many cases can be resolved through negotiation, settlement, or other dispute resolution methods. But the unique circumstances of your case, including the extent of your injuries and the willingness of both sides to come to an agreement, can determine whether or not going to court is required.
Filing a Claim
The first step after an auto accident is typically to file a claim with the insurance company. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that each driver’s insurance company will cover their medical expenses no matter which driver was at fault.
But if your injuries are severe or exceed the limits of your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, you may pursue a claim against the driver who was responsible for the accident.
In some cases, the involved parties and their respective insurance companies and attorneys conduct pre-litigation negotiations. This process involves exchanging information, including medical records, accident reports, and other types of evidence, to determine liability and damages. Both sides may try to reach a fair settlement without going to court.
Mediation and Arbitration
The next step may involve mediation or arbitration if the two parties cannot reach a settlement during negotiations. Mediation is a voluntary step where a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the two parties settle.
Arbitration is a more formal process where an arbitrator comes to a binding decision after hearing evidence from each side. Both mediation and arbitration are faster and less formal ways to resolve the issue compared to going to court.
Court Filings and Proceedings
If all of the above steps fail to resolve the dispute, the injured party may decide to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit involves submitting legal documents, known as pleadings, to the court. The defendant is then served with these documents, and the case enters the litigation process. But even after filing a lawsuit, there are still chances to settle the case before it goes to trial.
Discovery and Depositions
During the discovery phase, each party gathers evidence to support their case. This can involve written requests for information, document production, and depositions where witnesses offer sworn testimony. Many cases are resolved during or even after the discovery phase as the parties may better understand the strengths or weaknesses of their respective arguments.
Settlement Negotiations During Litigation
Settlement negotiations can continue even after a lawsuit has been filed. The majority of personal injury cases are settled before going to trial. Insurance companies generally prefer to settle rather than face the uncertainty and expenses of going to trial.
Trial and Judgement
If all attempts to settle fail, the case will go to trial. Each party presents their evidence, witnesses testify, and the judge or jury decides the case. But even during the trial, the parties can reach a settlement. The court may encourage further settlement discussions before rendering a final judgment.
Going to Court for an Auto Injury Claim
While going to court after filing an auto injury claim is not required, it’s critical to be prepared for the possibility. Negotiation, mediation, and arbitration can resolve the case without going to trial. But each case is unique, and your course depends on the circumstances. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will guide you through the process and help you make the best decision at each step of the way.
Our legal team has over 40 years of experience seeking justice for our clients who have been the victims of auto accidents. Our attorneys have sought and won millions of dollars for our injured clients. Don’t let your health and legal rights go unaddressed after an accident.
Call 850-601-1111 to schedule a complimentary consultation with no obligations. This consultation will help you explore your legal options. Let us help you fight for fair compensation.