Will My Auto Case Likely Settle?


Most automobile accident cases settle before trial. Some settle early in the process and others settle on the courthouse steps. There are many factors which will determine whether and when your automobile accident case will settle.

Probably the most significant of these factors is the type of auto accident case involved and the amount of recoverable damages. Generally, the more sophisticated and higher damage cases do not resolve early in the process of litigation.

Rear-end collisions with small to moderate damages are probably the fastest type of automobile accident case to resolve. However, if the amount of damages is in serious dispute, even these cases can proceed to trial with a stipulation of liability on the issue of damages.

Some auto accident cases require that the attorneys hire accident reconstruction experts to determine how the accident occurred. This happens a lot in cases where the allegation is that the car had a defective design or part. Issues involving a dispute about who entered an intersection first, or whether the light was green or red also can require the use of experts.

In cases involving these types of issues, it may take a long time for depositions, expert reviews and documents to be exchanged and evaluated by the parties. Without an adequate understanding of the issues and the potential testimony at trial, the parties do not have enough information to evaluate their chance of success and thus, their willingness to settle. Although cases involving complex factual and legal issues may settle just before trial it could take years to get to that point.

Sometimes, there is a question of whether or not the other side has insurance coverage under a particular policy. Disputes over insurance coverages must be resolved before any settlement offer can be made or entertained. Such disputes frequently deal with the issue of how much money the coverage in question will afford for the claim. The answers to coverage questions are generally resolved by the court through motions filed by the parties.

Another common issue that must be resolved before the parties can settle is the amount of provable, realistic damages sustained by the plaintiff. Cases often proceed to trial on the sole issue of damages. Thus, most lawyers will work the case as if it will proceed to trial and hope that their work will enlighten the other side about the need to settle the case. If the case does not settle, that lawyer is then ultimately prepared to try a good case with the best potential for a favorable outcome.

Statistically speaking, most cases settle before trial. However, it could take years to develop enough facts and legal issues to convince the parties of the need to settle the case. Thus, it would not be a good idea to count on a quick settlement in any case.


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