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Do I Have To Go To Court For A Car Accident in Georgia?

There’s no good time to get involved in a car accident, and it can be overwhelming realizing that you have to gather evidence, keep track of your injuries and expenses, and file a compensation claim. Along the way, you’ll probably be wondering, “Do I have to go to court for the auto accident?”

Most motor vehicle accident victims worry about everything they must do to recover compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other expenses from their accident. The thought of going to court for a car accident is stressful and overwhelming for many. The good news is that most auto accident injury claims are settled outside court---but not all. 

Why Do I Have To Go To Court For a Car Accident?

If you’re filing a car accident injury claim against the responsible party, you’ll probably end up going to court. There are several reasons this may happen. These include:

  1. The insurance company doesn’t want to settle. By the time you’re at the lawsuit stage, you and your car accident lawyer have tried to get the negligent driver and their insurance company to agree to a fair settlement--and they haven’t budged. In most motor vehicle accident claims, the insurance company will try to offer a lowball settlement offer for your damages. This settlement offer is never even close to the full extent of your expenses, so your personal injury lawyer will help you negotiate for a fairer settlement offer. Also, the at-fault party and their insurance company may blame you for part accident or the insurance adjuster may look for factors to get the other driver’s liability reduced. Often both parties agree and the case is settled. But if this isn’t the case, you may have to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve to cover all your medical bills, property damages, lost income, and pain and suffering.
  2. The at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance cover. Also, you may take the at-fault driver to court if they’re uninsured or underinsured. With no insurance cover, there’s no way to file a personal injury lawsuit for your damages. This means the other driver--if he or she was fully at fault for the crash; they’re wholly responsible for the damages. However, the problem with going to court for an auto accident with an uninsured driver is that they barely have much money or assets to draw on. This is often the reason they have risked driving around without auto insurance coverage. Thus, your legal options may be limited-- but this may be a reason to go to court. If you opt to go to court to fight for compensation, hiring an experienced Decatur car accident attorney can give you a good idea of what to expect. Your attorney can look at the details of your case and help you decide whether filing a lawsuit is in your best interest.
  3. Being summoned for another case. Another reason you may have to go to court after a car crash--separate from your personal injury claims--is if the at-fault driver received a ticket and chooses to fight it in court. Here, you were a witness to the traffic violation and a judge may summon you to appear as a witness. Although you don’t have to appear when you’re summoned, it’s a good idea to speak with your car accident attorney, especially if you have filed a lawsuit for the same car accident.
judge gavel

How Long Does a Court Hearing Last for a Car Accident?

Getting involved in a car crash can be very overwhelming and stressful. All you want to do is get well, get your vehicle back on the road, and go on with your life feeling whole again. However, when filing a personal injury lawsuit is the only way to achieve this, you may wonder how long it will take to resolve your matter. While a car accident claim follows a general timeline of steps, however, the length of each step can vary drastically. It could take a few months or even several years, with the possibility of a car accident settlement always an option along the way.

The Car Accident Claim Process

Many car accident lawsuits settle and don’t end up in court. However, if there’s a dispute on who is to blame for the crash or the scope and extent of the injured party’s damages, a car accident lawsuit becomes a possibility. 

Although the litigation process for each lawsuit will differ based on several factors, the following timeline of a personal injury lawsuit can give you a rough idea of how a court hearing for a car accident can last. 

  • The plaintiff files the claim, and the lawsuit starts officially.
  •  The plaintiff serves a copy of the complaint to the at-fault party (defendant). Typically, this takes a few weeks to complete, however, it can take several months, especially if the defendant is hard to track down.
  • The defendant responds to the complaint. Depending on the court where the lawsuit is pending, the defendant has about a month to file his or her response to the plaintiff’s complaint.
  • The discovery process takes place. Each side requests and exchanges information that can serve as evidence during the trial. Discovery takes at least a few months to complete. But often it can take a year or more.
  • The trial happens. A car accident trial takes only a day or two to complete.
  • Potential appeal. If one side isn’t happy with the outcome of the trial, an appeal is possible. There are several levels of appeal, however, even one level of appeal could add several years to the length of your case.

The above timeline doesn’t include several phases of litigation, which can add yet another several months to the overall car accident court hearing process. For instance, before the defendant responds to the complaint, he or she may file a motion to dismiss in an attempt to win the case before he or she has to file an answer. Also, once discovery is complete, but before trial, the defendant may try to win the case by filing a motion for summary judgment.

From start to finish, a car accident lawsuit court hearing may take at least one year to complete, assuming the lawsuit goes to trial and there’s no appeal. 

car accident

Do You Have To Go To Court for a Fender Bender?

According to Georgia state laws, you need to report the incident to the police. Also, you could wind up in traffic court, and based on the severity of the fender bender, you may want to hire a Decatur car accident lawyer. Typically, minor fender benders don’t always necessitate court or legal representation, but if you must appear in court, take your police report and insurance claim information.

Get a Free Consultation with a Decatur Car Accident Attorney

Whether your car accident case can be resolved via a settlement or ends up in court, the experienced Decatur car accident attorneys at Marks Law Group are ready to help you every step of the way. We have been helping car accident victims in Decatur and throughout Georgia for decades recover fair compensation to cover their medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering, and we can help you too. 

To schedule a no-cost initial consultation and free case review with one of our experienced car accident lawyer, call us today at (404) 939-1485 or chat with us online now.

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