Pro and con list for deciding whether to sue for a car accident

If you can’t come to a settlement after a car accident and feel comfortable with the insurance company, you need to decide whether or not you want to take your case to court by filing a lawsuit. As with all major decisions, there are pros and cons that need to be weighed upfront to make the best decision for you.

Pro

Filing a lawsuit can take decision-making power away from the insurance company and entrust it to a neutral judge or jury. The insurance company’s professional experts make decisions in the best interest of the company. A judge must make a decision based on the application of the law.

Con

It is not uncommon for cases to take several years to be adjudicated after a lawsuit has been filed. During this time, the insurance company earns interest on the money, not you.

Pro

After a lawsuit is often filed, the expert initially assigned to the case is replaced by a more experienced litigation expert, who may reassess the case and be willing to continue negotiations. The majority of cases are eventually settled and you may not have to wait years for a lawsuit if you can come to an agreement.

Con

Litigation is expensive. Even if your attorney works on a contingency basis, you are still responsible for paying filing fees, trial servers, depositions, and witness appearance fees.

Pro

A judge or jury may be willing to consider other forms of damages that an insurance company will tell you they will not. This could be lost income from a second job, loss of marital companionship or compensation.

Con

At the end of a lawsuit, if either party is not satisfied with the outcome, they can appeal. This can add years to the process and an extra layer of cost to the case.

Pro

Once a lawsuit is filed, you have the option to do what is called pre-trial discovery. This may include a mandatory process for hearing witnesses and the ability to issue subpoenas for key evidence.

Con

You may have to appear for testimony and court proceedings that are scheduled at inconvenient times.

Pro

In serious cases, you have the option of obtaining a judgment that exceeds the limits of the insurance policy and may collect directly from the assets of the defaulting driver.

To determine whether or not to litigate, you should carefully weigh these options. You must consider not only your desire for the highest possible award, but also the speed with which your case needs to be resolved. An experienced car accident attorney who has litigation experience will be your best source of guidance in making this decision.