Suing After Car Accident: Why Cases Rarely Get Resolved in Court

What if you survived a car crash but never got your day in court?

When suing after car accident, most people imagine that they have a dramatic day in court ahead of them. However, the truth is that you aren’t very likely to ever see the inside of a courtroom.


Judge Dan Hinde

Wondering why such cases are rarely resolved in court? Keep reading to discover the answer!

Not “Plan A”

This may take you by surprise, but nobody actually wants to go to court. And this should include you!

A trial is a kind of last resort. It indicates that you and the defendant were not able to come to any other kind of compromise or agreement.



So, the shortest answer to why most car crash cases are resolved out of court is that the two parties reach a settlement. And in most cases, it will actually work out far better for you to do the same thing!

Insurance Pressure

Let’s say you go to trial and you win. Have you ever wondered who would be footing the bill?

The money actually comes from the defendant’s insurance company. And these companies are going to push for everyone to settle instead of the case turning into a lengthy trial.

For the insurance company, the math on this is easy: they want to pay out as little as possible and be done with it. With a trial, they risk losing more than they would on a settlement, both in terms of paying the plaintiff and paying various legal fees.

Keep in mind that a good car accident attorney can tell you whether a settlement offer is a reasonable amount. This helps you to determine whether you will take the initial offer or take the other party to court.

Too Much Time

So far, we have talked about why other people would want you to settle. This brings up a natural question: what does the plaintiff have to lose by going to trial?

The main answer is time. It’s not uncommon for car accident cases to take many months to resolve. And very often, these cases can go on for years!

Spending that much time in legal entanglements is very costly (more on this below). but it’s also emotionally draining, forcing you to relive the trauma of your car accident long after it happens.

When faced with the prospect of getting money now or going to court for many years, many people decide to take the money and run.

The Human Factor

Chances are you are very confident about your case. After all, you’re willing to go to trial over it.

That confidence comes from a single thought: that no reasonable person could doubt the strength of your case. However, that “jury of your peers” is not as reasonable as you might imagine.

It’s impossible to fully predict how a jury will react to your case. In addition to the evidence presented, they will be studying how you act, dress, and speak in order to determine if they believe you.

Therefore, going to court is a really big gamble with a very uncertain payoff. No wonder most auto accident lawsuits end in settlements.

Legal Costs

Remember when we said that your case might take years to resolve? You’re still on the hook for the legal costs the entire time.

It’s true that some of these costs may be covered by your award if you win. But in the meantime, you are stuck finding a way to pay for everything and crossing your fingers for a victory.

Keep in mind that your attorney is likely working on contingency and will be paid a portion of the award if you win. That means you must spend years covering legal costs out of pocket and then give up a chunk of the award at the end.

Expenses Adding Up

During those long months and years, you don’t just have to worry about the legal costs adding up. You may also have to worry about bills piling up at home.

Many people have difficulty returning to work after surviving a car accident. And without a steady stream of income, they have no way of paying for things like mortgages and utilities.

Going to trial may burn your financial candle on both ends as bills and legal expenses grow. But getting an immediate settlement lets you start taking care of bills right away and not have any legal expenses to worry about.

Defense Costs

So far, we have focused on the annoying legal costs you’ll pay even if you win your case. But have you considered what happens if you lose?

In most cases, a loss means you must cover the defendant’s legal costs as well as your own. That means that going to trial and losing effectively doubles up how many legal fees you have to pay.

As we said before, this all comes down to the unpredictability of the jury and the overall trial. Even a seemingly-airtight case may not go the way you expect, and you’ll be left holding two bags and an empty wallet.

Money In Hand

There is one final reason why taking a settlement is usually the right move. And it’s something that most of us instinctively know: money now is better than money later.

If you receive a settlement today, you can use it to pay bills, invest it, or do anything else you want to do with the cash. Compare that to getting the same amount three years from now as part of a trial award.

Sure, you get the same amount of money. But your debts have all grown, and you’ve missed out on countless investment opportunities.

Long story short? Those considering a civil lawsuit for car accident should strongly consider taking a settlement. Even if you would have won, you get money now instead of as a structured settlement.

Suing After Car Accident: The Bottom Line

Now you know why suing after car accident usually ends in settlements and not trials. But do you know how to stay on top of other hot legal news?

Our magazine focuses on the kinds of lawyers and legal interpretations that shape the world around you. To learn even more about the law, check out our legal column today!

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