Whether you’re the rider of a motorcycle or another party in the accident, there is a possibility that someone may try to take the matter to court. You might think it’s a foregone conclusion as soon as you talk to a lawyer, but that’s not the case.
Motorcycle riders become motorcycle accident victims daily in Phoenix, but only a small percentage go all the way to court. Zanes Law explains why you may not have to go to court for a motorcycle accident claim in Phoenix, and when you might have to in order to get full compensation after an accident.
The Phases of a Motorcycle Accident Injury Suit
Going to court is the last step in the long process of a motorcycle accident case. At any point before going to trial, you and the other driver’s insurers can come to an agreement on how much you should get for an accident.
Hiring a motorcycle accident attorney helps you know whether a settlement offer is fair and whether it’s in your best interests to go to court. Here are some phases you may go through during your case.
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Before The Lawyer
If you don’t have a lawyer, an insurer may try to reach out to you to offer a settlement after your motorcycle accident. Without legal representation, you could get an offer much lower than what your case is worth. That’s what the insurer is counting on.
Insurance companies always want to settle cases as quickly as possible for as little as possible. Low settlements save them money, and settling quickly means they can avoid the costs of going to court.
Never sign paperwork or accept an offer from an insurer after a motorcycle accident until you’ve talked with an injury lawyer. The only insurer you should talk to is your own to report the accident.
The Lawyer’s Investigation
Once you hire a lawyer to help you with your claim, they’ll start an investigation into what happened. In order to make a strong claim with the insurance company, they have to back it up with evidence. That evidence will also be necessary if your motorcycle accident case goes to court.
Among the many things they’ll look for include:
- Interviewing witnesses
- Getting documentation from doctors and the police
- Talking with you about your side of the story
- Speaking with medical experts
- Contacting your workplace about potential lost wages
Also, by having a lawyer, you do not have to worry about the insurance company pulling a fast one on you. All communication with you must be done through your lawyer once you have one. All you have to do is give them your lawyer’s contact information.
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Next, after your lawyer has the evidence they need to get you the true value of your case, they’ll start negotiations with the insurance company. The insurance company may have their own evidence and reasons they want to lower your compensation, but they have to negotiate in good faith.
The reason is that you have the power to take them to trial and you have a legal advocate that knows how to speak their language. At some point, the insurer will probably make an offer to settle your case.
Your lawyer will advise you on whether the settlement is a reasonable amount, or if you should fight for more in a trial. You should understand that you have a right to be compensated for your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, and all other damages.
You always have the ultimate say in whether to accept or reject a settlement offer. Before considering a trial, you and your lawyer must be clear about your goals and your chances, because trial is risky.
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Filing a Lawsuit and Discovery
If negotiations break down and you start a lawsuit, your Phoenix motorcycle accident attorney will file paperwork with the court and serve notice to the insurer. After some behind-the-scenes legal steps, the court will open the process of discovery.
Discovery is when both sides share the evidence and witnesses they have with each other. It’s a formal process to exchange information so neither side gets surprised by new information they had no time to prepare a defense against. There may also be steps to verify pieces of evidence as genuine.
Once each side sees the full range of evidence in the case, you might get a sudden offer of a larger settlement for your motorcycle accident. Again, each side can come to a final settlement on their own until the day of the actual trial. Once that’s done, it’s out of their hands and in the hands of a judge (and possibly jury).
If all negotiations fail and all the pre-trial steps cannot push either side to settle, there will be a formal trial about the matter. The court will hear arguments from both sides about whether you deserve compensation for the accident and how much it should be.
The judge and jury are free to set compensation amounts at whatever they believe is fair. This could be much more or much less than what you’re asking for. It’s possible you could get nothing at all if you lose, or much less than you need.
On the other hand, some cases get a lot more. One factor for this is the chance of punitive damages. If the defendant acted in a grossly negligent manner, the court may give you more money as a punishment against the defendant.
Do I Have to Show Up in the Courtroom Myself?
It is unlikely that you will be summoned to the courtroom even if your case goes to trial. What usually happens is that you will submit a deposition under oath beforehand about your side of what happened. Your motorcycle accident lawyer in Phoenix will help you through this process.
Rarely, you may get called to testify in court. If this is necessary, your lawyer will help prepare you for questioning. It’s very important to follow their instructions because your compensation may depend on your answers to the court.
In summary, the odds of going to court for a motorcycle accident in Phoenix are low. Most cases settle out of court, and a few more may reach discovery or even the day before trial before the insurance company accepts your claims and offers something fair. And if they don’t settle, the Phoenix courts and your lawyer will settle the matter for them.
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