A car accident is a shocking experience for anyone.
The physical, mental, and emotional harm an automobile accident causes may entitle you to seek financial compensation for all your damages. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, pain and suffering, and mental anguish caused by the collision.
You can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company if you can prove their negligence or carelessness was responsible for the crash. If you can prove that to their insurance company, you can try to recover all the damages and expenses the crash left you with.
However, insurance companies can be difficult to work with and often refuse to settle for the full amount you deserve, hoping you and your claim will just go away. If a fair settlement isn’t negotiated, the case goes to trial, and the car accident court process is in full swing.
What Is The Car Accident Court Process In Texas? – Key Takeaways
- The pre-trial car accident court process involves:
- Filing a lawsuit,
- The discovery and deposition processes,
- Filing various motions
- Jury selection.
- The trial involves:
- Opening arguments,
- Examining and cross-examining witnesses and experts,
- Driver testimonies,
- Driver cross-examination,
- Closing arguments,
- The jury verdict,
A seasoned Texas car accident attorney will do what they can to settle out-of-court. But insurance companies often refuse to pay a fair settlement that covers all damages their client caused you.
Disputes over liability, damages, or other disagreements can prevent a settlement, and the case must go to trial. Going to trial requires filing multiple motions and court processes, and the insurance company’s lawyers will use your filing mistakes against you before the trial even starts.
This article covers the entire car accident court process, from pre-trial insurance negotiations to the trial itself, including the jury verdict, judge ruling, and post-trial proceedings. Finally, we’ll discuss what happens when a car accident claim goes to court and how to get a car accident settlement.
We’ll also detail why a car accident goes to court, how long the process takes, and what happens when a case doesn’t go to court.
Finally, we’ll review the importance of having a seasoned Texas car accident attorney firm like Zinda Law Group on your side as early in the legal process as possible. We have extensive experience negotiating with insurance companies and their legal teams.
We can provide expert witnesses and will cover all the legal expenses at no cost upfront. We work on a contingency fee agreement, meaning we only get paid a portion of the settlement if we win your case. Otherwise, you pay nothing.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-863-5312
What Happens When a Car Accident Claim Goes to Court — A Full Breakdown of the Car Accident Court Process:
Once a doctor has addressed your injuries, it’s time to start the personal injury claim process. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complicated and often frustrating legal process. We’ll help you at every stage of litigation, starting by filing your insurance claim.
The first step on your way to court is to help your attorney gather evidence against the negligent driver who caused your accident. This stage of the car accident court process requires patience as your counsel diligently investigates the accident.
They’ll determine the strongest course of action to take to obtain the most favorable resolution for your case, including whether a settlement is ideal. They’ll also let you know if hiring experts is necessary to strengthen your case.
Negotiate a settlement
Once both parties have gathered all the evidence, the next step in the car accident court process is to try to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. That said, the insurance company’s lawyers will typically try to invalidate your claim by poking holes in your story. Why? Insurance companies prioritize paying the least amount possible.
We strongly suggest refraining from contacting the defendant’s insurance companies. Don’t speak with their lawyers until you’ve consulted an experienced car accident attorney.
Most of the cases our seasoned team at Zinda Law Group handles are settled during negotiations prior to trial. Settlements can be favorable to both parties, as they’re more predictable than relying on a jury verdict and avoid the hassle and cost of a full trial.
The insurance company’s duty is to their client, and our duty will be to look out for your best interests. If the negligent party’s insurance company offers you an unfair settlement, we’ll go to court and fight for what you deserve.
Filing a lawsuit
If a fair settlement can’t be reached in negotiation, the next step in the car accident court process is to file a lawsuit, starting the process that takes you to trial so a jury can hear your case. Filing a lawsuit can be a complex process. How long the procedure takes depends on the details of the case.
Filing a lawsuit in Texas requires specialized knowledge. As always, we suggest hiring an experienced Texas car accident attorney to help navigate the Texas civil justice system.
Service of process
The Texas car accident court process requires a Service of Process. In this step, a Process Server serves the defendant a copy of the court summons, notifying them that they’re being sued for causing the wreck. Once served, the defendant has a few weeks to file a response to the lawsuit.
Discovery and depositions
Once the other driver answers the lawsuit, the Texas car accident court process moves into the discovery stage. Both parties exchange evidence they intend to use to support their positions. Discovery gives everyone a chance to review both sides of the story.
Both parties will compare witness statements and supporting evidence. This evidence includes photos and videos of the collision, investigative reports, medical bills and records, and lost wages documentation. Once they’ve evaluated this evidence, it’s time to move on to depositions.
Depositions are where lawyers from both sides interview everyone involved in the accident and any witnesses, including doctors and co-workers.
Following depositions, parties from both sides will often look to resolve a case before trial and reach a settlement. At this point, most evidence surrounding the collision has been uncovered. The parties will often look to schedule mediation, which is required in some circumstances.
Mediation is the process of trying to reach a settlement with the help of a neutral or impartial third party. This third part will review the evidence and deposition statements and lead a discussion between the two parties in hopes of resolving the case and reaching a fair settlement.
Mediation allows both sides to share their input, giving them more control over the case’s outcome. A trial is unpredictable and expensive, and settling in mediation can save both sides time and money. But if one side acts unreasonably or remains unwilling to mediate in good faith, it’s time to prepare for trial.
In some cases, one of the parties involved might challenge the accuracy or relevance of a certain piece of evidence presented by the opposing side. In this situation, the party files a motion with the court, asking the judge to exclude the document or witness testimony in question.
Lawyers employ this strategy to discredit the opposition’s argument or to weaken their case by removing evidence. The judge will then review the motion and make a ruling on whether or not the evidence should be excluded from the proceedings.
If the case proceeds to trial after discovery and all motions have been filed and resolved, jury selection is the next step in the Texas car accident court process.
During jury selection, attorneys from both sides will question the numerous citizens summoned for jury duty. The judge and lawyers will ask potential jurors questions to determine if they’re unbiased, competent, and suitable to serve on the jury. Both sides have the opportunity to strike biased or unqualified candidates from the jury.
Depending on which court your case goes through, 6–12 neutral jurors are selected to hear the case.
The opening statements are the first things that happen during a car accident trial. Each side will make an opening statement clarifying which sides they represent to the jury.
The attorneys’ opening statements preview the evidence, letting the jury know what each side intends to prove their client’s story is true.
Opening statements are also an opportunity for us to expose the tactics the other side will use as weak or irrelevant.
Evidence presentation and witness testimonies
After the opening statements, counsel presents evidence, and witnesses provide testimony. During this phase in the Texas car accident court process, the plaintiff and defendant will present physical evidence. This includes all supporting documents and witness and expert testimony to support their version of events.
Both sides will have an opportunity to cross-examine the other side’s witnesses, including both drivers involved in the accident. Here, they try to prove who was responsible for the collision and how severe the corresponding injuries were.
The closing arguments are the last part of a car accident trial. Your attorney will summarize the evidence shown over the past few days of trial, indicating why the other party is responsible for the collision and your injuries.
Your attorney will reiterate all you’ve dealt with due to the other party’s negligence. Your lawyer will ask the jury to award a verdict that fairly compensates you for all the harm you’ve suffered from the collision.
Once the trial proceedings have ended, the jury will discuss the evidence, testimony, and opening and closing arguments to decide who was at fault for the accident and what amount the jury should award for damages.
In the Texas car accident court process, the jury verdict is given as a percentage of liability. For example, they may decide one driver was 80% responsible for causing the collision while the other driver was only 20%.
In Texas, if the jury finds either driver was at least 51% liable for the wreck, they and their insurance company are responsible for the damages the accident caused.
How long does a car accident trial last?
How long personal injury cases take to go through court varies as the details of each case are unique. The facts of how your injury occurred, the recovery period, and the insurance company’s willingness to pay up can all affect the time needed to resolve your case.
A free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer can explore your options and explain how long your case can take to settle. The attorney can draw on their experience dealing with similar cases to give you a time estimate.
However, the details of your case will influence how long the Texas car accident court process takes to unfold. Contacting a Texas car accident attorney as soon as possible will speed up the settlement of your claim. Hiring a seasoned lawyer is a strong first step to compensation for your injuries and losses.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim in Texas?
How long it takes to receive your car accident settlement varies depending on the particulars of your injury claim. Insurance companies like to pressure you into a decision before you’re ready when they know you aren’t represented by an attorney.
Once there’s an attorney involved, insurance companies like to play the waiting game since they know you won’t settle for anything less than what is fair to you. If insurance companies know you and your attorney won’t accept the minimum payment, they’ll try to wait it out.
The larger the settlement, the longer it’ll take the insurance companies to settle your claim, but we do everything we can to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. At Zinda Law Group, our attorneys are aggressive. We’ll hold out for a fair settlement and keep the pressure on the insurance companies until they pay your settlement.
Final Thoughts on the Car Accident Court Process in Texas
The car accident court process in Texas is complex, requiring extensive knowledge and strict following of legal procedures. Representing yourself in court can cause delays. Without an attorney, you’re vulnerable to the insurance company’s tactics to lower your settlement and stall your payout.
The earlier you contact an attorney about your personal injury claim, the sooner we can work for you. Let us deal with insurance companies on your behalf.
If we can’t reach a fair settlement, the personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group have the knowledge, experience, and resources to go to trial. We’ll fight the insurance companies at every step of the car accident court process. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we win.
Contact us today at (888) 560-4726 to schedule a free consultation. Let us pursue the compensation for your injuries and losses that you deserve while you focus on recovering from your wreck.