I am often asked by my client if they should try to settle or go to court. That depends on the facts of their case. This article discusses the pros and cons of both processes.
When should someone settle or go to court?
Some car and truck collision cases need to be heard by a jury. Large damage cases or those involving driving while intoxicated or other violations of criminal law should often be presented to a jury. I am about to file a lawsuit in a crash that tragically took the life of a passenger.
Even so, almost all car and truck wreck cases settle outside of a courtroom. That means that the chance of your claim being successfully resolved without you testifying in front of a jury is excellent.
That is good news for most people. Over the past 41 years, when I ask my clients if they would rather settle or go to court, almost everyone prefers to negotiate first.
A favorable settlement will happen if people have hired a good personal injury lawyer who can obtain the maximum amount of money possible.
In addition, other insurance policies and resources may have to pay. Business owners, employers, vehicle manufacturers, and government entities, may be responsible.
What is a settlement?
It is a written agreement that resolves all issues. A settlement is negotiated before or after a lawsuit is filed.
How does this happen? After the injured victim recovers from their injuries and damages can be determined, their lawyer submits a demand package to the other driver’s insurance company.
Negotiations follow. Counter-offers and counter-demands are made. The victim’s attorney meets or speaks with the insurance adjuster and/or their lawyer to argue the merits of the case and demand that more money is paid.
If an amicable resolution can be reached, documents are signed, a check is written to pay the victim, and the case is closed.
What are the advantages of a settlement?
- They are faster than going to a jury trial. A typical settlement might take from three to 12 months versus two to three years to reach a trial. A slow process became even slower when Covid closed our courts for over a year.
- Settlements can be cheaper. The added expenses and fees of going to court can be enormous. Deposition expenses, doctor’s testifying fees, and other expenses can mount up quickly.
- They allow the injured person to know exactly how much money they will receive. An inadequate settlement offer can always be rejected. On the other hand, the jury decides how much to award and the amount has to be accepted.
Smaller injury cases, e.g. those involving neck and back strains and sprains, are good candidates to try to settle.
What are the advantages of trials?
- They may allow the victim to recover more money even after the added expenses. For example, a settlement offer might be $25,000 while the injury lawyer estimates that the case is worth $100,000 or more.
- Some companies will refuse to pay any money depending on the liability and damage facts.
- Trials allow the victim a fuller sense of justice since they have a public forum to explain how the crash has altered their lives.
When is the best time to try to settle a claim?
Each case is different. There are different stages when a case may be settled. Each has its pros and cons. The choices are
A. Soon after the crash if liability is clear and the injuries and medical bills substantially exceed the insurance policy limit.
B. After the injured person has recovered.
C. After a lawsuit is filed and discovery is completed.
D. At a mediation. This is a negotiation session that takes place in the offices of an attorney or via Zoom.
E. Just before trial.
F. During trial
How long do you have to file a lawsuit for your personal injuries
Texas law gives injured people 24 months to seek medical treatment, recover from their injuries, and attempt to settle or go to court. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, suing certain government entities requires that a notice of claims is filed within six months under the Tort Claims Act.
It is never a good idea to wait. You or your family member are already injured, may be missing time from work, and probably do not have the time or resources to take on an insurance company.
The company will close its file or only reserve a small amount of money unless it knows that the injured person is serious.
We at Berenson Injury Law obtain critical evidence including
- Proof of liability,
- The extent of vehicle damage,
- The seriousness of personal injuries,
- Total medical bills,
- Lost wages and benefits, and
- Other damages
I can then analyze a crash’s financial value by analyzing many variables discussed here:
Can you just handle this yourself?
You might assume that the at-fault driver and their insurance company are going to be fair. You might think that they want to quickly do these things:
- pay you enough to total out or repair your vehicle,
- let you drive a rental car or truck in the meantime,
- pay for your medical bills as soon as you get them,
- reimburse you for your lost wages and benefits, and
- write you a large check for your other damages.
No,just the opposite often happens. Insurance representatives are paid to delay, minimize, and deny payment. The less money they pay to injured people, the more money their company makes.
This is the first reason that people hire the best car accident lawyer they can find.
Contact Berenson Injury Law today
My team and I fight to achieve justice and maximize every client’s financial recovery. We know how devastating injuries are and how car and truck crashes can affect people’s lives. These are the only cases we handle.
For more information, please contact us at 885-801-8585 or click here.