At some point or other, odds are high we’ve all been there. We have heard the crash of crushing aluminum and cracking glass, we have felt the force of the impact, we have experienced the pain and shock that comes with a car accident.
Shortly after calling for emergency help and seeking medical attention, we have also felt the frustration and confusion that comes with trying to figure out our number one question: what next?
The answer is not always the same because the rules can vary by state. In Vermont, the process may start with reaching out to officials. State law requires drivers report an accident that resulted in injury or more than $3,000 in property damage. The next steps generally unfold as follows:
- Reports. In addition to the initial report noted above, you may need to file reports with police and insurance companies.
- Insurance negotiations. The other driver’s insurance company, or perhaps your own, may attempt to offer a settlement and close the matter. This is not always in your best interest. The settlement is likely low.
- Additional negotiations. If you chose to move forward with a lawsuit, you generally start by filing a complaint and sending it to the defendant. The defendant then responds and negotiations may begin. Here, both parties will discuss the matter and try to come to an amicable resolution.
- Litigation. If you can not reach an amicable resolution through negotiations, the case may go to court. This often includes use of a jury. The case will then move to trial.
During trial, both sides generally make an opening statement, have an opportunity to present their case and evidence to support their argument. They then make a closing statement before it goes to deliberation — the time the jury decides their verdict. This can include an award which you may need to take steps to collect or a ruling in favor of the other party. If in favor of the other party, you can discuss options to appeal the jury’s decision.
If it seems like a lot to manage know that you are not alone. You can seek legal counsel to help advocate for your interests and better ensure your interests are protected. Putting the answer to “what comes next” in the hands of a legal professional can reduce some of the stress and frustration that comes with a car accident while also helping to better ensure your interests are protected throughout the process.