The decision whether you want a judge or a jury to determine a personal injury lawsuit depends on the size of the claim to be filed. If the case is minor, it can be decided by a judge in small claims court. If it is a major case, it should proceed to a higher court with a jury trial.
Preparation is required in this courtroom, but it is more relaxed than the higher court systems. It is merely where you or your attorney states your case, provide witnesses, and the judge makes the decision.
Insurance companies won't usually file an appeal if losses are less than $10,000. Local laws should be checked before anyone tries to file in the small courts. Many will only award losses that are out-of-pocket expenses. Some of those expenses may include lost work time and doctors' bills. Even if the claim is legitimate for pain and suffering, the court doesn't have the power to award those categories.
It is advisable to attempt settlement versus the maximum allowed in the small courts. It may be in your best interest to gain a fair recovery amount. This would eliminate the suing process. The insurance company may be willing to make a settlement which will save a lot of time and effort to both parties.
The insurance company will most likely have an attorney to represent the opposing side of the case. The judge will not allow bullying in the courtroom. Present the case with honesty and present all of the facts for your side of the case. If you are in the right, your case should be on the winning side.
Higher Court Cases
If you choose to take your case to higher courts, it is essential to have an attorney with experience to present your case. More complex procedures are involved for complex cases involving substantial damages. Some states will not allow personal injury cases in a small claim courtroom and will require those cases to be filed in the higher court system.
If you pursue the case in higher courts, you will be involved with procedures from the opposing injury lawyer involving hearsay, objections, and other legal arguments. For obvious reasons, you would be fighting a dead-end battle without legal representation. Strict rules involve elements that will permit pre-trial discovery and extremely specific rules for evidence presented.
Attorneys are well prepared for the legal battle, and will do all possible to win the case. A private person will be placed at a huge disadvantage because of the levels involved in the legal system.
It will depend on how much money and how severe the personal injury was before you decide which court system is the best choice. In many personal injury cases, it is best to have an attorney for representation of the facts. In either case, it is up to you as the client to make that choice.