What Judges Don’t Tell You in a Personal Injury Case in North Carolina
When a person is injured by the negligence, or carelessness, of another individual, the injury victim may have a legal basis, called a “cause of action,” for bringing a personal injury claim. Usually, the negligent party (“defendant”) has insurance coverage, through which the claimant seeks compensation. If the claim cannot be settled out of court – for instance, because the defendant’s insurance company denies liability, or because the insurer is unwilling to make a reasonable offer – the claimant may wish to pursue the matter further by bringing a lawsuit, which is known as “litigation.” During litigation, both sides will have the opportunity to present arguments and evidence, and a neutral jury will review the information to make a determination as to whether it is appropriate to award compensation. Unfortunately, due to laws that restrict what judges may and may not state about a defendant’s insurance coverage, jurors don’t always receive the full financial story before sitting down in the jury box, creating a major obstacle to recovery. Therefore, it is essential for the plaintiff to be represented by a skilled Charlotte personal injury lawyer who understands how to clear these difficult hurdles.
What Juries Aren’t Allowed to Know About a Personal Injury Trial
Being the plaintiff in a personal injury case can be a stressful experience. Not only does the plaintiff’s ability to experience emotional closure hang in the balance – so do thousands, tens of thousands, or perhaps even millions of dollars. To make matters more difficult, what judges don’t tell the jurors – the very people whose role it is to review the evidence, apply the law, and ultimately, reach a verdict – is that it is not the individual defendant who will pay the final bill, but rather, the defendant’s insurance company.
In fact, the law actually requires personal injury judges to exclude any mention of insurance, a fact people are often surprised to learn. The judge may not state the dollar amount of coverage the defendant has, nor even if the defendant has insurance coverage. If a judge (or either party’s attorney) makes any reference to insurance, a mistrial will be declared, meaning the jury will be dismissed, and a new trial will have to start all over again.
The result of this restriction on insurance-centric language? Many jurors, though well-meaning, labor under the misconception that by the time trial begins, the plaintiff has already received a settlement from the insurance company and is simply using the trial to ask for more money, when in fact, the opposite is true. In reality, the injured person has not received a penny for their lost wages, medical bills, permanent injuries, or future medical treatments at this stage in the legal process.
These common misconceptions about insurance, treatment costs, and plaintiff compensation can work in the defendant’s favor, much to the detriment of accident victims. However, while injury lawyers are prohibited from discussing insurance during the trial, a skilled and experienced attorney may be able to surmount this obstacle by presenting a robust, compelling, and comprehensive case that is thoroughly supported by clear and detailed evidence, such as medical records, expert testimony, and eyewitness testimony. By going into detail about the true long-term costs of the plaintiff’s injuries – the income lost, the reduction of earning capacity, the months or years of medical care that will be necessary – a knowledgeable attorney can help to steer the jury away from under compensating the plaintiff due to misconceptions about insurance coverage.
Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You Get Accident Compensation
Some personal injury lawyers always aim for a settlement out of court – even when it is not in the client’s best interests. At the Ramsay Law Firm, we are skilled and aggressive negotiators, but will also begin preparing for the possibility of litigation from day one of your case. Should the party who injured you refuse to settle, our experienced trial attorneys will be ready to take your case to court, where we will use proven strategies to pursue the maximum damages available for your injury and resulting losses. Every claim requires a unique set of legal tactics, and we will follow the course of action that best protects your rights, whether that means working toward a settlement without going to trial or presenting courtroom evidence to prove that your injuries were caused by the reckless or negligent conduct of the defendant.
The Ramsay Law Firm handles a wide array of personal injury matters on behalf of accident victims in the Charlotte, NC area, including car accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall accidents, premises liability, traumatic brain injuries, wrongful death, and other types of cases. For a free consultation about how a personal injury attorney can help you file a claim and pursue compensation, contact our Charlotte injury law firm at (704) 376-1616 today.