If you’ve been injured in an accident, you might be surprised to know that going to court isn’t your only option. In fact, it is unlikely that you will need to step foot in a courtroom at all to be compensated for damages. Data shows that only about 5% of personal injury cases ever go to trial. What about the other 95% of cases? Those cases are resolved through a settlement.
A settlement is an offer of payment from an insurer or a defendant to an injured person. If the injured person accepts the offer, he or she will agree to release the defendant of any liability. In other words, if you sign a settlement, you are agreeing not to sue those at fault.
When an injury occurs, insurance companies will often reach out to the injured party as soon as possible to offer a settlement. Their hope is to reach you before you have had time to contact a lawyer. Many people assume the settlement offer must be fair, but that isn’t necessarily true. Though it can be difficult to turn down an offer especially when money is tight, the offer is likely less than what you deserve.
The insurance companies have in-house attorneys to advise them. It is in your best interest to have a legal expert on your side to look out for your best interest. Your lawyer will gather information and compile proof of all the damages you have suffered to generate a more accurate and fair demand package to send to the insurance company. Your lawyer will then negotiate on your behalf to get the best settlement possible for you.
It is important to find the best attorney to represent you. Be sure to ask the right questions when meeting with an attorney the first time.
Many factors come into play when determining a fair settlement for a personal injury case. While medical expenses are likely the first to come to mind, you may also be eligible for compensation for loss of income, emotional distress, property damage, and pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer has the experience to be sure that all damages and losses are accounted for, not just the obvious ones.
In the rare instances when an agreement cannot be reached as to a fair settlement, you can choose to drop the claim or take it to trial. You can read more about Steps of a Personal Injury Case here. Your lawyer can advise you as to what is in your best interest.
Sometimes the word “settle” has a negative connotation. But in most personal injury cases, agreeing to a fair settlement (negotiated by a lawyer on your behalf) is not settling for less than you deserve. There can be many benefits to a settlement agreement as opposed to a trial. Negotiating a settlement can be cheaper meaning that many people end up with a larger check in the end than they would after a trial. But a settlement can offer you more than just money.
Settlements are faster. The time between an accident and the actual trial can take years. A settlement can occur in a fraction of that time. That means you spend less time and energy and you get your compensation sooner.
Settlements can be less risky. When you go to trial, there is always a chance you will lose. With a settlement, your compensation is guaranteed.
Settlements can offer privacy. In the process of a trial, the defense will request an immense amount of information. This can include medical records going back many years, among other private information. Less information is typically required to reach a settlement agreement.
This is not to say that no one should ever take a case to trial. However, much of the time, settlements are the appropriate course of action.
If you have a personal injury resulting from
and are wondering if a settlement might be right for you, contact Wells, Call, Clark, Bennett, & Clawson today to schedule a free consultation. Remember, once you sign a settlement agreement, you have waived your right to sue. You want to be sure that you are being compensated fairly. Don’t sign without consulting a legal expert.