Legal Lessons Week 2 - Is Going to Court Necessary?
Oct. 30, 2020
Answers to Your Personal Injury Questions
Dear Attorney Norton,
I was hurt in a car crash that was not my fault. Do I have to file a lawsuit and go to court?
- Afraid of Court
Dear Afraid of Court,
You DO NOT have to file a lawsuit or go to court if you do not want to. Even if you hire an attorney, you should not feel pressured to file a lawsuit if that is not what you want. In fact, most cases settle out of court with the help of an attorney. An attorney should provide you with advice but, ultimately, you decide the direction your case takes.
Many people worry that if they hire a lawyer they are committed to going to court. This is simply not the case. In fact, 95% of cases settle through negotiations with the attorney and the insurance company for the at-fault driver. If the insurance company makes an unreasonable offer, your attorney may recommend that you file a lawsuit. Again, it is your decision whether to actually go forward at that point. Your options include settling or filing the lawsuit. If you chose to proceed with a lawsuit, the overwhelming majority of cases filed in court actually settle BEFORE going to trial. Thus, you usually have multiple opportunities to settle before going to trial.
Dear Attorney Norton,
Is it true that all injury cases have a deadline for making the claim?
- Afraid of Deadlines
Dear Afraid of Deadlines,
There is a deadline, called a statute of limitations, for bringing any claim in every state. The deadline is the time by which you must either file a lawsuit or have the case settled. The deadline in Colorado for automobile accidents is three years. The deadline in Colorado for many other cases is two years. This includes wrongful death claims, malpractice, animal attacks, and slip and fall cases. If a government agency is involved in the case, there is a very short deadline of 182 days to provide notice of the claim to the governing body or their attorney. This deadline would apply if a public bus, a school bus, a police car, or any other government agency is involved.
If you do not take the proper action before the applicable deadline, your case and claim will be lost forever. You should speak to an attorney immediately to determine the deadline that applies to your case. There should not be a charge by a lawyer to simply tell you the deadlines that apply to your case. If you hire an attorney, you should not own anything until after the lawyer collects for you.
You may submit your questions, or talk to an attorney, free of charge, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.