Few things are more frustrating than a car accident. Not only does it usually mean missing work and potentially losing money as a result, but it could also result in serious injuries. Then, there’s your car to consider, as well. Your main means of transportation could be out of commission for a while. However, you can seek compensation for a car accident in court. To get more details, ask a car wreck injury attorney in San Antonio, Texas.
Ask a Car Wreck Injury Attorney in San Antonio: If I File a Claim, Will I Have to Go to Court?
You May Have to Appear in Court Multiple Times
A lawsuit is a complex process with several steps. Depending on how your case unfolds, you might have to appear in court more than once. However, you may not have to appear in court at all. There are several potential opportunities to appear in court throughout the course of a lawsuit. Early on, there may be a hearing to determine the next steps of the case. If your case goes to trial, you would be expected to appear then, also.
Note that the nature of your lawsuit does not have much of an impact on whether you will have to attend court or not. All personal injury claims are filed in Texas civil courts, regardless of the cause. Car accidents are just one kind of personal injury claim. Find out more about other kinds of accidents that can qualify for personal injuries. In any case, here are some of the situations where you may have to appear in court.
Appearing for the Hearing
In some cases, your lawsuit may require a hearing before going to trial. Not every case includes this step, though. Generally, hearings are necessary when witness testimony is needed or when the person named in your lawsuit does not respond. Many Texas courts have shifted to remote hearings, so you might be able to stay home while still attending the proceedings.
During a hearing, the court quickly reviews the details of the case and verifies that you understand the proceedings that will follow. Hearings are very brief and are only meant to validate the case itself. If the hearing judge decides that the case has been correctly filed and no agreement has been reached, a date for a trial will be set. The trial determines the final decision. Judgments are not issued during hearings unless the other party refuses to appear.
Taking Your Case to Trial
If you decide to take your case to trial, then you will need to appear in court on the date the judge sets for the trial. These days, trials for civil suits are very rare. Out of over 500,000 civil cases in Texas, less than 20% went to trial. Most of those were disputes between tenants and landlords. What happens to the other 80% of cases?
65% of these cases were either default judgments or dismissed by the plaintiff, a result that typically means the plaintiff received compensation. This could happen because the plaintiff received a settlement out of court and therefore decided to drop the case. Alternatively, default judgments could result in a victory without ever having a trial. Consider how these two outcomes work.
Securing a Settlement With a Lawyer Without a Trial
The most common result for a civil case is to get a settlement out of court and then drop the lawsuit. This is favorable for everyone involved. Courts are routinely booked for months on end, which means that your petition for a trial may extend the duration of the legal process. You would probably rather receive compensation now, and the defending party would prefer to resolve the issue once and for all as soon as possible. Settlements accomplish exactly that.
However, to get a settlement, you must first file a suit with a lawyer. When your lawyer files the lawsuit, the other party, officially known as the respondent, will be given a written notice that they have been named in the lawsuit. They must then respond to the court to acknowledge this notice. After responding, your lawyer and theirs can discuss the case in the discovery process and perhaps reach a settlement agreement.
About 30% of civil cases in Texas are resolved by default judgments. This is easily the best-case scenario for you, although there is no way to guarantee a default judgment. If you’ve ever heard of someone getting out of a traffic citation because the police officer didn’t appear in court, then you’re familiar with the concept. If the person named in your lawsuit doesn’t respond or doesn’t appear at trial, you win automatically.
Bear in mind that a default judgment will still require the court to review your case. You cannot simply sue for an egregious amount and receive it in full because of a default judgment. You will have to demonstrate the damages from your car accident and provide evidence to support your claim. With the help of a car wreck injury attorney in San Antonio, you can build a solid case that courts will support.