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Will I ever have to go to court over a car insurance claim?

Making a car insurance claim can sometimes be a complicated process, especially if you and another motorist are in a dispute over who was at fault in an accident. In these cases, you may be wondering if you’ll ever have to go to court to settle the dispute.

In reality, it’s very unlikely, but not impossible, that you’ll have to go to court over a car insurance claim.

Most car accident claims are settled out of court, often because the evidence about who’s at fault for the accident and thus liable is clear. For instance, if you’re crossing a junction on green and are struck by a car that’s running a red light, that driver is clearly at fault. 

Things can get more complicated in other accident scenarios, especially if the drivers are telling different stories. But even then, it’s only in extreme cases that the drivers and their insurers will turn to a judge to decide fault.

Usually, police reports, eyewitness testimony, the damage sustained by the vehicles, and sometimes CCTV footage will establish fault. It’s also not uncommon for insurance companies to determine that the drivers are jointly liable - either sharing the fault equally (50/50) or bearing separate amounts of guilt (for instance 75/25).

It’s also not typically in the interest of the liable driver and their insurer to dispute the claim. Doing so would entail significant legal expenses, which the driver may have to cover if the case isn’t decided in their favour.

It’s very unlikely for a claim for the repair of your vehicle to be taken to court. It’s slightly more likely that a claim for compensation following an injury would be disputed, because of the amount of money that can be awarded. Additionally, there can be differing medical opinions about the extent of a victim’s injuries. But even then, only around 1% of personal injury claims in the UK go to court, with just a fraction of those related to car accidents.

Even if there’s a dispute over who’s at fault or the amount of compensation that should be awarded, it’s highly likely a settlement will be reached before the trial. Insurance companies very commonly make an offer of compensation as a trial date looms, trying to avoid the heavy costs associated with a trial.

So, you shouldn’t worry about having to attend or testify in a trial related to a car accident. The chances of this happening are vanishingly small.

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