If you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else, you deserve to receive compensation for your injuries. This is normally achieved by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person who was responsible for your injury, or the insurance company representing them.
While you may have visions of a court trial, there is a good chance you will receive a settlement offer long before your case reaches that point. But should you agree to mediate, negotiate, or accept the settlement offer being made? There are several things you must consider.
1. The Strength of Your Case
The strength of your case depends on many different factors. These include what was injured, when the accident occurred, and how your injuries occurred, as well as the extent of your injuries.
Cases in which there is no question as to the defendant's liability are much stronger than cases in which the defendant may not agree they are responsible. Cases with substantial financial losses such as medical expenses and missed time from work are also stronger than cases that do not have a high level of loss.
Cases in which you have permanent injuries or scarring are also stronger than cases in which you may just have residual pain. Although, cases of pain may be strengthened if you are able to show you have received and/or continue to receive substantial treatment and therapy.
The strength of your case also depends on whether or not there are resources available to pay your case. A case in which the defendant has insurance and you are going to be able to collect a judgement is much stronger than one in which the defendant does not have the ability to pay.
2. The Value of Your Case
Before you can begin entertaining settlement offers, you must have a realistic view of what your case is worth. If you do not have an idea of what your case is worth, you run the risk of settling your case for a whole lot less than it is worth.
Most cases are valued using a basic calculation method that takes into account your economic losses, such as your current and future medical expenses and lost earnings, as well as your non-economic or pain and suffering. The calculation reached gives you a general idea of what your case is worth.
3. What Similar Cases Have Settled For
Although some cases have written in their settlement agreements that the terms and conditions are to remain confidential, there are still plenty of statistics and information available that will tell you what similar cases have settled for. Just remember, the facts of each case are different.
Different insurance companies and different attorneys' negotiation styles are not the same. This will result in different offers being put on the table. While you will not be able to determine an exact number of what to expect, collecting this information will give you a general idea of what you may expect.
4. How Long It Will Take You to Get To Trial
Only 4 to 5 percent of personal injury cases ever reach the level of having a trial. Some of this is due to the length of time it will take you to get there.
Before you go to trial, you have to be at a certain level of recovery in order to be able to determine what medical care you may need in the future. Even after your recovery, it can take one to two years, or longer based on your jurisdiction, for a personal injury case to get ready to go to trial. Even then, it may not be ready to be heard. Discovery, mediation, and negotiation will still have to take place.
Most people cannot afford to wait this long to be compensated for the injuries they have received. Unfortunately, the insurance companies know this and will often attempt to use this to their advantage. If you choose to not settle your case, just be prepared to wait out the process.
Never consider a settlement offer without discussing your case with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. The Law Offices of Scott J. Forster is here to help you through the process. Give us a call so that we can review your case and get started.