Most cases resulting from car crashes settle out of court. However, when the victim and the insurance company for the party who was at fault disagree about either negligence or damages, the case may proceed to court for a trial.
Personal injury cases not settled out of court are usually heard by juries in court. A judge evaluates and determines which evidence to allow, and the jury then decides if the defendant sued by the plaintiff is at fault. The jury will then assign an amount of damages based on the extent of the injuries, and if the claimant wins their case, the judge orders the at-fault party to pay that amount or some fraction of it.
To award damages, the jury must start by determining liability. The concept of comparative negligence might apply. If the defendant claims that the plaintiff was partially or fully at fault for the crash, the jury can hear evidence and determine a percentage of liability to allocate to both drivers.
If the jury decides that the defendant driver was partially at fault, then the jury will next consider whether the collision caused the injured party harm and, if so, how much to award. The amount of compensation the plaintiff can potentially receive from the other party (or parties) will be set based on the degree of fault. For instance, if the jury determines that the plaintiff was 20% at fault and it awards $100,000 in damages, they will be entitled to $80,000 from others who were more responsible for the damages.
It’s important to get help
Along with the support of loved ones, victims usually find it helpful to work with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney who handles motor vehicle crashes. A road-related injury or death can leave victims with life-altering injuries, property damage or the loss of loved ones. The attorney can help the client navigate this difficult situation, explaining what to expect if the lawsuit goes to trial and discussing strategies for working towards the best possible outcome.