Trial vs. Settlement
Our attorneys generally try to settle personal injury cases without going to trial when possible. A settlement provides the accident victim with money more quickly and avoids the time and uncertain outcome of a jury trial.
However, insurance companies sometimes refuse to pay a claim because the insurer disputes that their driver was at fault or will not come to terms on a settlement amount. If the insurance company will not accept fault, a trial may be necessary.
Car Accident Case Going to Trial
Our attorneys are experienced trial lawyers. Our legal team is prepared to seek justice in court when the insurer refuses to accept a reasonable settlement offer.
The case begins when a civil lawsuit is filed, typically in a court in the county where the car accident occurred. The at-fault individual or individuals and their insurers who are named as the defendants will be notified of the lawsuit and given a chance to respond.
- Responding to Allegations—The defendant has a set time to respond to your complaint, either admitting or denying your allegations.
- Discovery Process—Both sides will have a chance to build their cases by sending written questions to witnesses, obtaining sworn statements from witnesses and collecting other evidence such as cell phone records or vehicle maintenance records.
- Pre-trial process—Both sides can file motions with the court asking the judge to rule on certain legal issues, such as whether a specific piece of evidence can be admitted or whether a request for information has to be complied with.
- Trial—A civil trial is a complicated process with procedural requirements to follow. Both you and the defendant have an opportunity to present evidence during the trial. You will have the legal burden of proving that the other driver was negligent and caused your injuries.
- Verdict and damages—The jury will decide if they believe the defendant was liable for the car accident that caused your injuries. If the defendant was to blame, then the jury will decide how much compensation you should receive.
Resolving Liens on Your Settlement or Jury Award
If you have unpaid medical bills after a serious car accident, healthcare providers, insurance companies or government agencies such as Medicare will put liens on your car accident settlement or verdict and then claim a portion of your compensation.
North Carolina law contains limitations on when liens can be used and when money can be taken from your car accident recovery. An experienced car accident lawyer at Hardison & Cochran can help you resolve any liens.
Under North Carolina law, doctors, hospitals, ambulance services and other medical professionals can place a lien on your car accident settlement to collect for the services they provided. If the healthcare provider perfects the lien, your attorney will be required to disburse a designated portion of the settlement or damages to the healthcare provider.
The amount of the lien is capped at 50 percent of a settlement or verdict after attorney fees are deducted from the settlement. This usually means that the lien is capped at about a third of the total settlement you receive. This limit protects your rights.
A federal law called ERISA allows health insurers to make a claim against your car accident settlement in certain cases. If an insurer claims that the ERISA rule applies, the insurer may put a lien on your car accident settlement or jury award and take some of the money that you receive when your case is resolved.