Will I Have a Trial In My Automobile Accident Case?

January 19, 2016 |
Will I Have a Trial In My Automobile Accident Case?
Witness swearing on the bible telling the truth in the court room

Being involved in an automobile accident can be very stressful. A victim may become more stressed because he or she may need medical care or require significant repairs to his or her vehicle. This is common as accident-related expenses have continued to increase.1

Many people associate litigation with a trial. Although a trial is considered part of litigation, it is not necessarily the only avenue for recovery and resolution. Recent statistics estimate that only 5% of cases actually reach the trial stage. Instead, many cases are resolved through some other method.

Michigan Insurance Law

Michigan is a “No-Fault” insurance law state.2 Under Michigan law, drivers involved in an automobile accident interact directly with their own insurance company for the settlement of related claims. Only in limited circumstances can an automobile accident suit be brought against the other driver:

  • The non-negligent party was killed, suffered a serious impairment of a bodily function, or suffered permanent and serious disfigurement due to the car accident
  • One of the parties is a non-resident whose vehicle is not insured in Michigan
  • The accident occurred in another state
  • The suit is for damage to the vehicle and is for $500 or less.

Settlement Agreements

Settlement agreements are the most common form of resolution in matters of litigation. A settlement agreement is created in order to memorialize the terms and conditions of the parties’ resolution. The terms contained within the settlement are binding to both parties upon execution. This means that the parties will agree to abide by the terms of the settlement and will cease pursuing further legal action against either party so long as the terms are met.

Settlement agreements are preferred for different reasons. First, they allow for a much speedier resolution between the parties. Since the parties, upon reaching a settlement agreement, elect not to go to trial, they save the lengthy process of a trial. Secondly, each party is able to actively provide the other party with offers and counter-offers. A settlement is a mutually agreed upon resolution designed to benefit both parties. The settlement provides the aggrieved party with a favorable amount of damages while hedging risks of total damages the party at fault could potentially pay if the case is decided at trial. Finally, settlement agreements provide the parties with specific remedies in the event that the other party fails to uphold his or her duties according to the terms. While the agreement is intended to be the end of the matter, a party can know that his or her rights are preserved if necessary.

What If I Do Go To Trial

Many seek to avoid going to trial. The process leading to trial is often lengthy and very expensive. Trials do not guarantee an outcome for either party, regardless of any estimates regarding the strength of one’s case. The outcome of the case is determined by a finder of fact - this can be either a judge or a jury. As such, the fact finder will determine the award, if any, as they see fit given the evidence. This can be more or less favorable than anticipated. However, trial can be the only option for recovery if the other party refuses to agree to a favorable settlement.

Contact a Michigan car accident attorney

Proceeding to trial in an auto accident case is a decision you should evaluate carefully with the help of a skilled attorney. You should always seek the assistance of a lawyer who understands this particular type of case. The experienced auto accident attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers have helped many injured victims recover, so please call 313-438-4357 for a free consultation today.