The process of settlement of a personal injury claim refers to when you and the person who caused you injuries agree to reach a voluntary resolution of your claim. When you settle your claim, the other party (or their insurance company) agrees to pay you a stated sum of money in compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other financial damages. You, in turn, agree to sign what is called a “release,” which is a document that forever releases the other party from any future liability to you.
Settlement can be mutually beneficial to both parties to a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Reaching a settlement of your personal injury claim benefits you because it ensures that you will be paid a stated sum of money. If you were to go to trial, there is always the possibility that, no matter how strong your case is, you could still lose and receiving nothing. A settlement also benefits the party who caused your injuries because it minimizes their exposure to the settlement amount. If you were to go to trial, it is possible that you could obtain a judgment for an amount greater than the agreed upon settlement amount.
There is an additional incentive for the party who caused your injuries to reach a settlement. If the party was to defend against your case at trial, they could incur tens of thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands of dollars) in attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and trial costs. Even if they are able to successfully defend against your claim and you lose your case, they may spend more on attorney’s fees and trial costs than the amount you would have agreed to accept in full settlement of your claim. What’s worse, if they lose, they incur trial fees and costs and they still have to pay your claim. From purely an economic standpoint, it makes sense to pay you to settle your claim and avoid the costs associated with going to trial.
Because a settlement removes from the equation the uncertainties associated with going to trial, you and your personal injury attorney may offer to accept slightly less in settlement of your claim than what you would expect if everything went perfectly and as planned at trial and you were to recover the maximum amount possible in your case. You and your lawyer can discuss what an appropriate settlement amount would be.
Settlement also gives you an opportunity to receive payment for your injuries now, instead of in years to come. Going to trial could delay your receipt of compensation for at least 1-2 years. Even if you win your case after 1-2 years, the other party may appeal the judgment or decision, and that will delay your receipt of payment for another 2 years or more.
Despite the benefits of reaching a settlement with the party who is responsible for the accident that caused your injuries or loss, if the other party is not even in the same ballpark as you are with respect to settlement, then you might as well roll the dice and take your case to trial and see how much a jury will award you for your injuries. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether or not the insurance company is giving you a fair settlement. If the insurance company is giving you a fair settlement, then your attorney will recommend that you accept the settlement offer, or make a counter offer and then settle. But if the insurance company is not providing a fair settlement, then your personal injury attorney at Injury Law Group will recommend that you take the case to trial.