Petrillo & Goldberg Law Blog

Will My Case Go To Court?

Going to Court Versus Going to Trial.
Clients often ask if their case will go to court. What they really mean to ask is if their case will go to trial.

A personal injury case may go to court, meaning enter the court system by the initiation of a lawsuit with the filing of a complaint, relatively quickly, depending on the attorney and the client’s needs. However, going to trial, assuming the case does not settle at some point, could take a couple of years.

Whether your personal injury case will go to court depends on several factors, including the severity of your injuries, the strength of the evidence supporting your claim, and the willingness of the other party to negotiate a settlement.

In many cases, personal injury claims are resolved through negotiation or mediation. This can be a quicker and less costly alternative to a full-blown court case and can often result in a fair settlement for both parties. During settlement negotiations, your attorney will work with the other party’s insurance company or attorney to reach an agreement on the amount of compensation you should receive for your injuries and other damages.

Not all personal injury cases can be resolved through settlement negotiations. If the other party is unwilling to agree to a fair settlement, or if your injuries are particularly severe and/or you are seeking a significant amount of compensation, your case may need to proceed through the court system.

On the Path to Trial.
Once the decision is made to go to court, it will likely go through the following steps:

  1. Filing a complaint. The filing of a complaint formally starts the lawsuit. It sets out the factual allegations, your legal claims, and the compensation you are seeking. As of the filing of the complaint, the clock (so to speak) begins to run towards a potential trial.
  2. Discovery. During the discovery phase, both sides will gather evidence and information to support their claims, including, but not limited to, taking depositions, obtaining medical records and other documents, interviewing witnesses, and getting expert opinions.
  3. Pretrial motions. Your attorney may file motions to request certain evidence or testimony be excluded from the trial, or to request a summary judgment (a ruling in your favor without a full trial). The outcome of these motions may provide an impetus for the defendant’s insurance company to settle the case.
  4. Mediation or Arbitration. In most cases that progress towards a trial, the judge will order that the parties attend a mediation or arbitration with a disinterested party, often other lawyers or retired judges, to try and work out a settlement and avoid a trial.
  5. Trial. If the case is not settled or resolved through motions, it will eventually go to trial. At trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge and jury
    – typically, issues of fact are determined by the jury and issues of law, by the judge — who will then determine the outcome of the case. It is not uncommon for cases to settle on the eve of the trial or, quite literally, on the courthouse steps.
  6. Appeal. If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial, they may choose to file an appeal if merited by the law – there is no absolute right to an appeal.

While instituting suit and moving the case forward towards a possible trial can be mentally and physically stressful and emotionally taxing, in most cases, it may be the best way to ensure that you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages.
Lastly, you may not love the idea of “going to court” because it implies that the case will drag on for a longer period of time than you would like. However, sometimes the best way to put pressure on the other side to settle is by filing suit since it “starts the clock” on moving the matter towards trial.

Retain Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys.
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident, it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your rights and options, contact the team at Petrillo & Goldberg Law without delay. We have offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and South Jersey and are available to discuss the details of your case and your rights.