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What Happens When a Car Accident Case Goes to Trial?

Colburn Law

The Car Accident Trial Process

Washington is a fault insurance state, meaning that victims of car accidents have the right to hold at-fault drivers accountable for their injuries. If you are involved in a car accident, you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the motorist responsible for the collision. While most car accidents can reach a resolution during the insurance stage, some cases need to proceed to trial. If you are filing a car accident lawsuit, it is important to know what to expect during the litigation process.

Pre-Filing Activities and Proceedings

When you decide to file a lawsuit, your attorney will initiate the process by investigating your accident, evaluating your damages, and waiting until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Your lawyer will also decide whether to send an initial demand letter to the at-fault driver that outlines your intention to file a lawsuit and the remedies you are seeking.

If your lawyer does send a demand letter, you may meet with the at-fault driver and settle your case before a lawsuit is filed. If you or the at-fault party decide against these negotiations or they are unsuccessful, your lawyer will file your lawsuit in Washington civil court.

The Discovery Process

Once your lawsuit is filed, you and the at-fault party will enter the discovery process. During this stage of your case, you and your lawyer will gather evidence for trial, depose witnesses and relevant parties, and exchange information with the other driver.

When you go to court, you will need to prove that the other driver’s negligent actions caused your accident and your resulting injuries. There are many pieces of evidence that your attorney may present in trial, including the following.

Testimony from you, witnesses, expert witnesses, and the at-fault driver
Medical records, bills, invoices, and other pieces of evidence related to your damages
Surveillance footage, police reports, and other documents establishing the other driver’s negligent actions

Your case may settle during pre-trial negotiations once the discovery period ends. If you do not enter these proceedings or they are unsuccessful, your case will enter the courtroom.

The Car Accident Trial Process

A car accident trial can take as little as a few days to as long as a few weeks, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. During your trial, you and the at-fault party will present evidence to a jury or judge. The at-fault party’s attorney may cross-examine you and any witnesses you present in an attempt to convince the court that the defendant is not at fault. Both parties will have the opportunity to present closing arguments to the judge or jury at the conclusion of the trial.

A judge or jury will then decide whether or not you are eligible for compensation. If a jury is presiding over your case, the jury will agree to a verdict. If a judge is overseeing your case, he or she will make a decision based on the presented evidence. Once a verdict is reached, the judge will enter a judgement. If your case is successful, you will receive compensation.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

If you are involved in a Washington car accident, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can evaluate your case, identify your optimal path to maximum compensation, and represent you in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. After seeking medical treatment for your injuries, speak to a Seattle car accident attorney to discuss your legal options.