The aftermath of a car accident can lead to severe damages, including mounting medical bills, lost wages, lengthy recovery periods, repair expenses, and emotional turmoil. You have the option to collect compensation for these injuries through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit — and if your case involves high amounts of damages, a lawsuit is likely your best course of action.
However, car accident lawsuits must undergo a series of specialized steps before you can collect the compensation you need to recover. A car accident lawsuit can settle quickly near the beginning of the process, or take multiple years to reach a conclusion.
How Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Begin?
Immediately after your car accident, it is important to speak to a car accident attorney to discuss your damages and legal options. Your attorney will examine the facts of your crash, look at the insurance details, and advise you on your best course of action. If you have high amounts of damages that exceed policy limits, pursuing a lawsuit will allow you to collect the compensation you need. There is a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits so ensure that you contact an attorney in a timely manner.
After you decide to file your claim, your personal injury lawyer will begin the initial investigation process and prepare the paperwork to file your lawsuit in Colorado civil court. You will serve a copy of the lawsuit to the at-fault party in your claim, and you will wait for the defendant to respond. The deadline by which he or she has to respond depends on where you are filing, but the at-fault party will typically need to respond within a month.
What Happens After You Serve the Claim to the At-Fault Party?
Once the at-fault party in your car accident case responds to the claim, you will enter the discovery process, along with your respective attorneys. During discovery, each party will exchange information that you may use as potential evidence in the lawsuit. You can request pieces of evidence from each other as well.
You can also enter settlement negotiations after discovery. You, the at-fault party, and your lawyers will meet to discuss your terms and attempt to come to an agreement. If he or she agrees to settle, you will receive your compensation at this stage.
Do You Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident Lawsuit?
If the at-fault party refuses to meet for negotiations or you do not reach an agreement during negotiations, your case will proceed to trial. Both sides will have the opportunity to present their arguments and the evidence associated with each claim. Car accident trials typically take one or two days.
At the conclusion of your case, the judge or jury will reach a decision as to whether or not the at-fault party was negligent. If the court rules in your favor, the decision will also include how much you can receive in your settlement. If you do not receive a settlement, you can choose to appeal your case.
While car accident lawsuits may be lengthy, it is important to undergo this process to collect the compensation you need. Settling early or going through the insurance process may not give you the funds you need to pay for these damages. For best results, speak to a Fort Collins car accident attorney before proceeding with your claim.