Do I Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

Most car accident cases settle outside court, but there are certain situations where you may need to appear before a judge. Working with a team of New York City car accident lawyers from the start, regardless of who was at-fault, can help you explore your options and minimize the possibility you’ll end up in court. Initial consultations with us are always free.

Reasons You May Not Have to Appear in Court for a Car Accident

Sometimes car accidents proceed in a standard manner. All injured parties seek medical care, cooperate with the police report, report to the DMV, and contact their respective insurance companies. Compensation is handled through the no-fault system without further complication. In these cases, you do not need to involve the courts.

You may not have to appear in court after a car accident if:

  • You are happy with the insurance company’s settlement offer.
  • You committed no traffic offenses before the accident and the facts are undisputed.
  • New York’s no-fault insurance system can adequately cover the cost of damage and injuries.
  • You have hired a skillful lawyer who negotiated an out-of-court settlement on your behalf.

Reasons You May Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident

Other car accidents can be rather complex and require assistance from a personal injury attorney. If you were not at-fault, rest assured your legal team will try to settle the matter through negotiations outside the courtroom to minimize costs. However, If an agreement cannot be reached, and the prospective payout is substantial, it may become necessary to plead the case before judge and jury.

Some scenarios where you may have to go to court following a car accident include:

  • The insurance company is not offering you a fair settlement offer to compensate your losses.
  • There is a disagreement as to who caused the injuries, the extent of injuries, and the amount owed.
  • A police officer issued you a citation for a moving violation like speeding or tailgating.
  • You failed to fulfill reporting requirements on time, as dictated by New York State law.
  • You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
  • Your license was suspended or revoked at the time of the accident.

What if I fail to appear in court after a car accident?

If you were not in the wrong, the court might summon you as a witness, requesting that you testify regarding what happened. If you are receiving a summons as a defendant, you will need to answer the complaint. Even if you think you bear no responsibility for the accident, you must respond to a court summons promptly.

Failure to appear in civil court can result in the opposing party winning by default, which can lead to a judgement against you for failure to appear or failure to file a pleading. If that occurs, the courts will determine the appropriate restitution you will have to pay, without your interests represented. If the accident involves criminal charges, failure to appear in criminal court will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

What happens if my car accident case goes to court?

If your car accident case is one of those rare ones that make it to court, you can expect the following stages:

  • A formal lawsuit is filed. The defendant receives notice and time to respond.
  • Discovery investigations include depositions, interrogations, subpoenas, and court requests.
  • Trial preparation involves accident investigation, record reviews, legal research, and expert consultations.
  • Out-of-court negotiations attempt to resolve disparities without a judge and jury.
  • If no resolution is reached, pre-trial hearings, conferences, court appearances, and mediations take place.
  • The jury is selected, with input from your lawyer, who may be able to dismiss certain biased members.
  • In the courtroom, lawyers from both sides deliver opening statements and present evidence.
  • After closing statements, the jury deliberates and reaches a decision.
  • A judge makes the final court order based on facts and the law.
  • Both sides have the opportunity to appeal if they disagree with the verdict or court order.

Can a lawyer help if I have to go to court for a car accident?

While a lawyer isn’t essential to move your case forward through the courts, a legal advocate is recommended. The New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London offer free consultations and contingency-based representation that costs clients nothing upfront or out-of-pocket. You only pay a small legal fee out of the money we recover on your behalf. We work hard to win you the compensation you deserve.