How to Prepare for a Car Accident Trial in Florida
You’ve had a car accident and you’ve provided notice to the insurance companies involved, worked with your attorney to provide evidence from the crash, and your handed over bills related to your injuries and property damage. Claims adjusters investigated, presented you with an unacceptable offer, and settlement negotiations went nowhere.
What’s the next step? It’s time to prepare for trial. If the insurance company won’t give you a fair and reasonable settlement of your claim so that you are fully compensated for your damages, you’ll have to ask a court to do so.
This option is available if you suffered serious injuries that cost more than your PIP (personal injury protection) and the other driver’s PDL (property damage liability) coverage can pay. You may also be entitled to punitive damages (compensation given to punish bad behavior) if the other driver acted in a reckless, egregious, or malicious manner.
The good news is that with David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. on your case, you don’t have to figure out how to navigate the civil court system in Florida. A personal injury lawyer with more than 30 years of experience, Attorney Fuchs will take care of filing your case, providing notice to the other party, and then arguing the case on your behalf. To do this, you’ll need to help him prepare.
What Your Attorney Can Do
No one should spend their recovery sweating over legal documents and under pressure from insurance companies. Working with an attorney can take away the stress of a lawsuit and help your case fight through denials and delays.
Your attorney will prepare for negotiations or your court date by filing paperwork and reading your legal documents. A Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer will take care of organizing your case. With our firm, you’ll have an experienced lawyer to communicate with doctors and witnesses, collect evidence to present to the court, examine the scene of the accident, and prepare statements.
What to Expect When Preparing for Trial
Your car accident may be the first time you’ve dealt with the civil judicial system. That’s why it is important to not go it alone if you need to file a lawsuit related to your crash. An experienced attorney can handle your case while you focus on healing and getting your life back.
The first thing to expect when preparing for trial is to participate in discovery. Discovery is the legal term used for the period that parties to a lawsuit get to gather evidence for trial. Items that will be part of discovery include:
- Accident report
- Medical bills and receipts for expenses related to getting care
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Employment records (for your amount of time missed, wages, employer of record for the defendant)
- Pictures or videos of the accident site
- Pictures or videos of physical injuries and property damage
- Car repair estimates
Much of the above list your attorney may already have obtained when in settlement negotiations. But formal “discovery requests” will be sent to the opposing parties (and you will receive them from the other side as well) asking again for any relevant documents.
In addition to document requests, your attorney may set up depositions, send requests for admissions, and interrogatories during the discovery phase. Let’s review those terms as you may be unfamiliar with them:
- Deposition: a sworn interview process where counsel can ask questions of the party being deposed. For example, the other driver will likely be deposed by your counsel. You will be deposed by opposing counsel. Depositions are used to get your statements on the record and assess how strong the claim or defense is. If you receive a deposition notice, your attorney prepares you in advance for what to expect and gives the rules under which depositions occur.
- Requests for Admissions: a set of written statements in which the parties are asked to “admit or deny” them. These can help find the areas where there is agreement as to the facts.
- Interrogatories: a set of questions in which the parties are asked for written answers. These can be used later for follow up questions in deposition.
Along with these tools of discovery, your attorney may work with you on an affidavit in which you swear to the facts as you know them. He may also seek experts to testify on your behalf regarding accident reconstruction, vehicle damage, and physical injuries.
The important thing to remember is that with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney on your side, your case will be prepared to get the best possible outcome at trial.
Once the discovery has ended, if there remains no settlement, the matter will be in pre-trial phase. During this time, your attorney will work on any motions to be submitted prior to the trial date and on responses to motions from the other side. For example, it isn’t unusual for parties to file motions for summary judgment (asking the court to find that the other party has no case).
Both sides will also exchange witness lists and there may be motions in limine, which ask the court for an order or ruling limiting or preventing certain evidence.
Should it appear you will go to trial on the matter, you will be prepared by your attorney to testify. He will walk you through what to expect in his questions and what you may face in cross-examination, when the other side gets to ask you questions.
The Trial Itself
If your case goes to court, your attorney will make the necessary preparations and communicate to you what needs to be done for court. First, your attorney will ensure that your court date is appropriate. They will research the judge and build their case. Depending on whether your case goes to the county courts or the circuit courts, your attorney may have more or less work to do. Your case will go before the county courts if your total damages are less than $30,000. If your claims are more than $30,000, you will go before a circuit court.
Next, your attorney will arrange to have witnesses and testimony ready for the trial. This may include having your doctor or an expert witness testify on your behalf. Your attorney will also collect necessary evidence, build a narrative for your trial, and draft up opening statements or questions for witnesses.
Your attorney will also communicate expectations for the trial with you and discuss a strategy for presenting your case.
A Skilled Attorney Can Help You Prepare for Trial in Florida
Even in pre-trial, the parties are often trying to resolve the matter so that a trial is unnecessary. If the matter isn’t settled, David I. Fuchs will go to court, show evidence that the defendant is liable, and ask the judge (or jury) to award you the maximum compensation allowed by law.