Many people who have been injured in a car accident are reluctant to speak to a lawyer because they are concerned that it will take longer to receive compensation than just taking the insurance offer. However, insurance company offers are generally much lower than what your case is actually worth. A car accident lawyer can pursue the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Even when you hire a lawyer, the likelihood that your case will go to trial is low. Most car accident claims are resolved without going to court. However, it is important to choose an attorney who is willing to go to trial if necessary.
The lawyers at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have extensive experience with all aspects of car accident litigation, from settlement negotiations to mediation to trial. If you have been injured in a car accident, please call (845) 303-8777 for a free case review with our lawyers in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh.
Why Would My Car Accident Case Go to Trial?
Although very few car accident claims see the inside of a courtroom, you and your attorney both need to be prepared for this possibility. Every case is different, but there are a few factors that could make your claim proceed to trial:
1. Liability Is Disputed
When a driver causes an accident, his or her insurance company is “on the hook” for damages in the crash. However, insurance companies are businesses, and they will find any opportunity to protect their profits. One way to do this is to claim that the other driver is responsible for the accident.
Insurance companies hire investigators to get to accident scenes quickly and gather crucial evidence that may absolve their employer from liability. They also have teams of lawyers who will argue that you are wholly or partially at fault for the accident.
Under New York’s contributory negligence laws, the compensation you recover is reduced proportionately to your fault in the accident. Therefore, it is in the insurance company’s best interest to try to present you as the responsible party.
Your lawyer will gather evidence on your behalf to demonstrate that the other driver was at fault, but the insurance company may not budge. In this situation, your case may need to be decided by a jury or a judge.
2. Settlement Negotiations Are Unsuccessful
Most car accident cases are resolved through informal conversations between the attorneys for both parties. Your lawyer will calculate the amount of damages to which you are entitled, then he or she will begin negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company in an effort to secure a fair settlement. The insurance company will likely make a counteroffer, and discussions will proceed until a satisfactory agreement is reached.
However, sometimes the parties in a case will reach an impasse. This may center on questions of fault, or it could be the result of disagreements on the amount of compensation. If a fair settlement cannot be attained, your claim will need to be resolved at trial.
Alternative Dispute Resolution in Car Accident Cases
If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, you may have additional options before going to court. Mediation and arbitration are methods of alternative dispute resolution that may enable you to achieve a satisfactory outcome without going through the uncertainty of a trial.
During mediation, an impartial third party will preside over informal conferences between you and your attorney and a representative of the insurance company for the other driver. The mediator will facilitate conversations with the goal of achieving a mutually beneficial resolution to the matter at hand.
Attorney Joseph O’Connor recently assisted a client with mediation proceedings after a car accident that resulted in a $550,000 settlement.
During arbitration, the parties will present their case to an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators who will make a decision in the matter. Most arbitration decisions are binding (i.e., final) with no option to appeal.
3. Multiple Parties May Be at Fault
Most car accident claims involve the drivers of two vehicles, with one driver at fault for the accident or both drivers sharing in the fault. However, some accidents may include other factors that create complicated questions of liability.
Depending on the circumstances of your claim, other parties that could be liable for the car accident include:
- An automaker or parts manufacturer for a defective vehicle component that causes an accident
- A municipal agency for a dangerous or defective road
- A bar or restaurant that overserves an intoxicated person who later causes an accident
- A third-party company, if the driver who caused your accident was driving as part of his/her job
Any parties in the car accident are likely to dispute liability. So, if multiple parties are at fault for your injuries, it may not be possible to resolve the case through settlement negotiations alone.
If multiple parties are at fault in your case, it is important to hire an experienced car accident lawyer who can investigate the circumstances and take action against anyone who may be responsible.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers in the Hudson Valley Today
The attorneys at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have extensive experience with car accident cases involving a wide variety of circumstances. From negotiations with the insurance company to alternative dispute resolution to trial, we strive to attain the optimal result on behalf of each client.
If you have been injured in a car accident, please call (845) 303-8777 or contact us online for a free case review. O’Connor & Partners, PLLC serves clients in Kingston, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and nearby areas of New York.