If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you probably want to seek compensation. You may have heard about cases where the plaintiff is awarded a large settlement by a judge or jury. It’s easy to think that your lawyer will have to go to court and battle head to head with opposing counsel. However, what is likely to happen is a lot less dramatic.
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. Very often, the parties reach an agreement before the trial stage or even before the personal injury lawsuit is filed. While the negotiations can be lengthy and frustrating, both defendants and plaintiffs generally prefer to avoid a trial. Even though your personal injury claim may not end up in court, you still need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
Negotiating with an insurance company is not for the faint of heart and you don’t want to do it alone. Unless you have previous experience, the insurer and their attorneys are likely to take advantage of you. Even if you have negotiation skills, you should focus on your recovery while your lawyer handles everything else. The attorney you choose can have a significant impact on how much money you’re able to recover.
It’s best to hire an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who will fight hard on your behalf. You need a lawyer who has a track record of taking cases to court when necessary. You see, insurance companies are quite familiar with personal injury lawyers. They know the ones who are willing to file a lawsuit to get maximum compensation and those who settle quickly. Generally, lawyers work hard at negotiation before advising their client to sue. There are good reasons for this.
The main reason why most personal injury cases are settled is that neither side wants to go to trial and risk losing. If you’ve been hurt, you’ve probably already lost a lot of money. You may have spent thousands of dollars on medical care and if you couldn’t work, you would’ve missed out on wages. Many plaintiffs decide it’s better to accept a guaranteed settlement than to risk getting nothing at all. They want to bring a quick end to their financial trouble and move on with their lives.
Similarly, insurance companies want to avoid being ordered to pay damages that are well in excess of the victim’s actual losses. A victim with a persuasive attorney could sway a jury into awarding a huge amount, particularly in serious cases. Since insurers and their lawyers don’t like uncertainty, they try to reach an out of court settlement.
The other reason why plaintiffs usually decide to settle is that you never know what a jury will award. A personal injury attorney can tell you the range within which the award is likely to fall. However, they can’t provide specifics. We may estimate that based on your losses and similar cases in the past, you can reasonably expect between $150,000 and $200,000.
The insurance company’s attorney will also provide their client with the range in which the verdict could fall if they lose. They may tell the insurer that they should expect to pay out between $125,000 and $175,000. Once the ranges overlap, the parties will usually agree to settle.
Each personal injury case has unique characteristics but once both sides negotiate fairly, they usually settle. Cases only go to trial if one party is being completely unreasonable or prolonged negotiations fail to produce an agreement.
One thing you must keep in mind is that once you agree to a settlement, the case is over. If you develop complications or you need treatment for longer than expected, you can’t ask for more money. We advise clients to settle only when they have fully recovered or when doctors don’t expect any further medical improvement. We’ll never recommend that you settle in the middle of treatment. Many unrepresented victims do so to get quick cash then later realize they made a mistake.
If you’ve suffered any type of personal injury, you should seek legal advice. Unlike what you see on TV, you’re highly unlikely to have to go through a big trial. We’ll negotiate with the other side’s attorneys on your behalf and try to get you fair compensation. We only suggest filing a lawsuit when we’ve exhausted other options. If you want to get the damages you deserve, call The Vance Law Firm today and schedule a free consultation.