I was injured in a Wilmington truck accident almost a year ago. It’s pretty clear that the trucker—who had been working too many hours without enough sleep—was responsible for the crash. Will my case go to trial? How long does this usually take before the case is concluded?
You have two questions there. Let’s address them in the order you give them.
“Will my case go to trial?”
Probably not, although we can’t say with absolute certainty. A North Carolina personal injury lawsuit, such as your truck accident case, will usually be settled out of court without a trial. A settlement means that the defendant—the truck driver or his employer—offers the plaintiff—you—a sum of money to drop the case. Generally, the person actually offering the settlement is a representative of the insurance company for the plaintiff, and the offer will be made to your attorney.
If you accept the offer (which may be the latest of several offers), then the trial will be canceled. In exchange for the money you receive, you will have to sign a document giving up your right to sue over your injuries.
A settlement avoids the costs of a trial, and also avoids uncertainty about the verdict.
If, as you suggest, the trucker has admitted he was drowsy when the accident occurred, or if there was other strong evidence to demonstrate he was negligent while driving, then it is even more likely that the case will be settled out of court. On the other hand, the more severe your injuries from your North Carolina traffic accident, the greater the amount of money that is potentially at stake—and thus, the greater the chance the insurance company will force you to go through a trial.
“How long does this usually take before the case is concluded?”
Longer than you would like—but that’s really a good thing. After all, once you have accepted a settlement or received a jury award for damages, you have no chance to ask for more compensation in the future. It would be a disaster to get a certain award only to find, a few weeks later, that you had further medical complications from your injury that will require much greater health care expenses than your award covers.
It’s typical, then, for your case to be filed but not actually brought to trial until the full scope of your injuries and medical expenses can be assessed. That can mean months or even a couple years of waiting.
Waiting patiently serves your interests, because it allows the most precise estimate of what your future medical and rehabilitation needs, and so allows your attorney to demand a specific sum for your compensation. But a delay also serves the interests of the insurance company opposing you. Their lawyers understand that, the longer the process takes, the more likely that you will be tempted to settle for a lower amount in order to begin paying your mountain of accumulated bills.
If you have other questions about your case, you should be having a regular dialogue with the attorney representing you. If you have not yet hired attorney for your Wilmington truck injury case, call Speaks Law Firm at 877-593-4233, and ask for a free consultation with a North Carolina personal injury lawyer. Our legal team emphasizes the importance of keeping open lines of communication between client and attorney so you can get answers whenever you need them.