What happens if your Road Traffic Accident Claim goes to trial?
If your Road Traffic Accident Claim proceeds to a trial, it will be conducted in the State Court if your claim is for an amount less than $250,000.00 and in the High Court if your claim exceeds that amount.
At the trial, the purpose of the trial is for you and the other parties to present your evidence and arguments for the Court to decide on 2 main issues:
1. Liability i.e. who is responsible for causing the accident
2. Quantum, i.e. how much compensation should be paid by the parties responsible for the accident
In terms of liability, the Court can decide that 1 person is fully responsible for the accident or that a few persons are partially responsible for a certain proportion or percentage each.
The parties’ respective proportion or percentage of liability is important because the Court will later divide the total amount of compensation amongst the parties according to their own share.
So, if the Court has decided that you were responsible for 20% liable or responsible for causing the accident (e.g. if your negligence had contributed to the accident being caused), then you would only receive the remaining 80% value of the total compensation sum i.e. $8,000 out of the total sum of $10,000.
If you’re successful in the trial and “win” the case, the Court award you an amount of legal Costs paid to you by the losing party – this is known as Party and Party costs.
There are 2 different types of costs that you should know about in this situation:
1. Party and Party costs are the legal costs that a losing party is responsible for paying to the winning party.
2. Solicitor and Client are the legal costs you’re responsible for paying to your own lawyer.
If you win your case, you can use your Party and Party costs towards paying your own Solicitor and Client costs. It’s important to remember that Solicitor and Client costs can exceed Party and Party costs, so you need to be able to pay any such additional amount e.g. some parties chose to pay this additional amount using funds from the amount of compensation awarded.
If you lose your case, you’ll need to pay both the Solicitor and Client for your own lawyer’s legal costs as well as the Party and Party costs awarded by the Court to the winning side.
So there you have it, some basic information on: what happens at a trial for a Road Traffic Accident Claim