Most car accident claims in Georgia are resolved through a settlement with the insurance company. However, there are some times when it might be best to go to trial, such as if the policy limit does not appropriately compensate you for your damages, the insurance company has denied your claim, or you have not been made a fair offer. In these situations, your car accident lawyer may recommend going to court to seek the justice and compensation you deserve. If you need help determining the direction to take in your car accident case, contact the Butler Kahn for help.
What Is the Georgia Car Accident Lawsuit Process?
If your case proceeds to trial, these are the steps you may encounter:
Filing a Lawsuit
The lawsuit officially begins with the filing of a complaint and summons. The complaint sets out the basic facts of your case and your demand for compensation. The summons notifies the defendant of the pending legal action and the time they have to respond to the complaint. The summons must be legally served on the defendant.
Discovery is the formal process for the parties involved in litigation to request information relevant to the claim. Some types of discovery requests include:
- Subpoenas to request evidence held by third parties, such as traffic light or surveillance camera footage
- Interrogatories asking the other party about the evidence and testimony they plan to introduce at trial
- Requests for production of documents for written forms of evidence
- Depositions of oral interviews with parties, witnesses, or expert witnesses
A trial date may be set after discovery is completed.
Filing of Motions
After discovery is completed, the lawyers on each side may file various motions, such as demanding that certain evidence be turned over or requesting a summary judgment. Settlement Negotiations At any point, the parties can engage in settlement negotiations to try to resolve the case before trial or a verdict. Your car accident lawyer may request a certain amount of compensation. The defendant’s insurance company or lawyer may respond with a counteroffer for a lower amount of compensation.
If your case proceeds to trial, you can expect the process to consist of the following events:
- Jury selection – The lawyers question potential jurors and ask for some of them to be excused from service until a panel of 12 jurors and 2 alternates is selected.
- Opening statement – Your lawyer will give an opening statement about the case and how the accident occurred. The defendant’s lawyer then gives their opening statement, discussing the case from the defendant’s perspective.
- Your argument – Your lawyer calls witnesses and presents evidence to support your case. The defense has the opportunity to cross-examine your witnesses.
- The defense – The defense can call their own witnesses and present their own evidence to support their side of the case. Your lawyer can cross-examine these witnesses.
- Closing arguments – Each side gives a closing argument, summarizing their position and asking the jury to rule in their favor.
- Deliberation – The jury meets and discusses the case until they reach a resolution.
- Verdict – The verdict signifies the end of the trial. The jury says whether they rule in your favor, and, if so, how much compensation they are awarding you.
How Long Will the Car Accident Lawsuit Process Take?
The length of a car accident lawsuit varies for each case. Some factors that can affect how long the car accident lawsuit process will take are:
- The court and location where the case is heard
- The number of other pending cases
- The complexity of the legal issues
- How long the trial will last
- Whether the parties have complied with discovery requests
- Whether any continuances have been requested and granted
- Whether the case is resolved through a pre-trial motion
A car accident lawsuit can be resolved anywhere between a few months to a few years.
What Is a Car Accident Settlement?
A settlement is an agreement between the parties to resolve the car accident case, usually for a specified amount of money. In exchange for the money, the plaintiff generally agrees to dismiss the lawsuit and release all legal claims against the defendant. Georgia courts often encourage the parties to have a settlement conference to determine if they may be able to resolve the case through a settlement.
How Much Money Can I Get from A Car Accident Settlement?
Every car accident claim is different, so there is no specific amount of compensation associated with a claim. The amount of compensation you receive is directly related to the value of your damages, which may include:
- Current, past, and future costs of medical care to treat injuries you sustained in the accident
- The value of income you lost while recovering from your injury, as well as any long-term reduction in your earning potential
- Costs to repair or replace your damaged vehicle
- Physical, emotional, and mental pain, suffering, anguish, and distress
How Long Does It Take to Get a Car Accident Settlement?
It may take a few months before you reach a car accident settlement. Your car accident lawyer will need time to:
- Investigate your case
- Gather evidence to prove liability and the extent of your damages
- Evaluate your claim’s worth
- Communicate with the insurance company
Your lawyer will prepare a demand package that sets out the amount of money you agree to accept in exchange for dropping the case. The insurance company may respond by accepting the offer, denying it, or making a counteroffer for less money. It can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to obtain a car accident settlement. We can give you a better idea about how long your case may take when you contact us for a free case review.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Georgia?
The statute of limitations is the law that sets the time limit to file certain types of legal claims. In Georgia, you generally have two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. However, you should not hesitate to reach out to the experienced car accident lawyers at Butler Kahn because there are some instances when you will have less time to file your lawsuit and your lawyer will need adequate time to thoroughly investigate your claim. You can get started today by contacting us online for a free case consultation.