This is the next post in a series of articles discussing uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claims in Fort Worth, Texas. The previous post addressed the process of dealing with your insurance company when making an UM/UIM claim. Depending upon the seriousness of the injuries or property damage sustained, this can be a complicated and lengthy process. If you are unable to reach a settlement with your insurance company, the case will proceed to litigation. In this post, we will discuss what to expect when litigating an UM/UIM claim against your insurance company. We recommend contacting an attorney as soon as possible after an accident occurs. It is important to engage a law firm with personal injury and trial experience to represent your interests.
As we discussed in the previous post, UM/UIM motorist claims are similar to making a claim against the defendant’s insurance policy. The major difference is that one is litigating against his own insurance company. When settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, the victim will file a Complaint against the insurance company seeking damages for the injuries suffered. The insurer will have the opportunity to respond to the Complaint by filing an Answer. Once the court has received the requisite filings, a trial date will be set. Each side will be permitted to conduct “discovery” in preparation for the upcoming trial. Significant information may have already been obtained through investigation and settlement discussion process, however, additional information may be requested from the other party through discovery.
A jury will be empaneled for the trial through the voir dire process. If it appears that a potential juror cannot be impartial, the judge may remove the person from the pool. The attorneys will also have the opportunity to challenge a certain number of jurors. After the jury is selected, the parties will begin the trial by making opening statements. Each side will present their case to the jury. The plaintiff may follow the defendant’s presentation with rebuttal evidence. Closing arguments will be made and the jury will deliberate its decision. The jurors will determine whether the victim is entitled to damages and, if so, the amount of the damages to be awarded.
The litigation process can be complicated and lengthy. It is important to engage a law firm with trial experience to help you navigate the process. We also suggest that you retain a firm which employs multiple lawyers, an on-staff investigator, and which has the financial resources necessary to handle such matters. This is our suggestion regardless of whether you were interested in Fort Worth, Dallas, or any part of the DFW area.