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Do I Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

Posted on July 30, 2021 in

Getting into a car accident can be a scary and overwhelming experience. You may sustain severe injuries, be unable to operate your vehicle, and struggle to cope with the physical, financial, and emotional impact of the collision. If another driver is responsible for your collision, you may wonder what your options are for seeking compensation. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you could hold the at-fault driver accountable through an insurance claim, or your case may go to trial. To learn more about your legal options for compensation, speak with a qualified car accident lawyer in Chicago.

Illinois Insurance Laws

Illinois is a fault car accident state, meaning that negligent drivers who are responsible for collisions must pay for their victims’ damages. The state requires that all drivers hold certain amounts of liability insurance to pay for these losses, which may include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Illinois car accident victims typically have three options to secure compensation.

  • Filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy
  • Filing an insurance claim under their own insurance policies if they have the appropriate policy
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court

Most car accident claims begin and come to a resolution during the insurance process. However, it may be in the victim’s best interest to file a lawsuit initially if his or her damages exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits. Additionally, there are situations where the insurance company may deny the claim or offer a settlement that is much lower than what you actually need to recover. It is important to speak to an attorney to determine your optimal path to compensation.

The Car Accident Lawsuit Process

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, a personal injury lawsuit can take up to one to two years to reach resolution. However, there are many points during the process that your case may settle before you reach trial.

  • Once you reach maximum medical improvement and decide to file a lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will decide whether to send an initial demand letter to the at-fault driver.
  • If your attorney sends the demand letter, you may enter into negotiations with the at-fault driver before filing your lawsuit. Your case may settle at this stage.
  • If your attorney does not send a demand letter, negotiations are unsuccessful, or the at-fault driver refuses to negotiate, your attorney will file your lawsuit in Illinois civil court.
  • After you file your lawsuit, your case will enter the discovery phase, which can take up to six months. During this time, you and the at-fault driver will exchange information, ask questions, and depose witnesses.
  • After discovery and before your case goes to trial, you can choose to enter mediation or negotiations with the at-fault driver. Your case may settle at this stage.
  • If your case does not settle or you do not enter pretrial negotiations, your case will go to the courtroom. A judge and jury will listen to both sides and determine whether or not to award you with compensation.

Why You Need a Attorney

Whether your case is resolved at trial or during the insurance process, it is important to hire an attorney to represent your claim. Your lawyer can handle all aspects of your case on your behalf, from investigating your accident and collecting evidence to advocating for your rights in civil court. As soon as possible following your accident, contact an attorney to discuss your case and legal options.