Lawsuits are expensive to litigate, which is why most personal injury cases end up settling out of court. Sometimes, though, the only way to get a defendant to pay fair compensation for the damages and injuries he or she caused is to take the case before a judge or jury. Although you may be in the negotiation stage with the liable party, here are two indicators you may need to take your case to court.
Negotiation Is Stalled
It's not unusual for defendants to make low-ball offers. After all, their goal is to pay you as little as possible. However, a red flag that you may have to sue in court is a low-ball offer combined with a seeming unwillingness to move towards a fair number. If you make reasonable counteroffers but the other party continues to stick with the same number or only increases the offer by minuscule amounts, then you may want to take your chances with a judge.
Sometimes the threat of going to court is all that is needed to get a defendant to make a more concerted effort to meet you at least halfway in settlement negotiations. Having your attorney craft a letter detailing all the reasons why defending a lawsuit is bad for the liable party (e.g. expense, hit to reputation) may provide the proper incentive for the other person to offer you something fair. However, it's essential you be prepared to actually go to court. The defendant may call your bluff, and you don't want to inadvertently weaken your position by not following through.
The Statute of Limitations Is Drawing Close
One tactic a defendant may employ is to stall in the case until the statute of limitations passes, and then refuse to pay for any damages. The statute of limitations is a deadline states impose that determines how long plaintiffs have to file personal injury lawsuits. In California, for example, you have two years from the date an injury occurs to sue for damages and losses.
If the defendant knows the statute of limitation is right around the corner, he or she may employ a number of tactics to "run down" the clock, including taking a long time to reply to notices, continuously asking for evidence or paperwork he or she should've already received, and postponing meetings.
If it seems like this is happening in your case or your attorney tells you time is running out, file a suit with the court. You can still negotiate a settlement. However, you'll protect your ability to sue the defendant if the two of you are not able to come to an agreement.
For assistance with how best to handle your truck accident case, contact an attorney.