QUESTION: HOW DOES AN ATTORNEY SETTLE MY CASE?
St. George Attorney Answer:
After all of the research for your case has been completed, your St. George attorney will keep in touch with you to track the progress of your healing and recovery from your injury. In most cases your injury will heal quickly and it will be time to settle your case before you know it. Your St. George attorney will send a large packet of information to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. This package will contain a letter in which a specific monetary amount is demanded.
This letter of demand from your lawyer outlines the important highlights of your case. It is a formal request to start settlement with the insurance company. After the claims adjustor at the insurance company receives the letter of demand, there will be meeting at the insurance company with the adjustor and the right supervisor with authority to make decisions about your settlement. After the insurance company has come to the figure that they have agreed to as the “authority figure,” for the settlement range, the adjustor will respond to your St. George attorney. This contact will begin negotiations between the adjustor and your lawyer to reach an agreeable settlement for both parties.
Your case may be able to be resolve over phone conferences and digital correspondence between your lawyer and the insurance company. The time it takes to negotiate and complete the settlement depends on several factors. These factors could include the type of insurance company, and how many claims the adjustor is managing, among other factors.
Does the At-Fault Insurance Just Pay Whatever Amount My Attorney Asks For?
No. Boy would that make life easy. The more the attorney can use Utah law to strengthen your case, the more the insurance adjuster will be willing to pay to get you to go away. Most of the time, the demand figure that your lawyer sends to the insurance company in the initial settlement request letter is higher than the settlement range agreed to by the insurance company. This leaves room for negotiation for both parties, and it very common for personal injury law.
Your lawyer’s expertise in this area of negotiating these cases will allow for a great deal of room to negotiate. Do not expect your actual settlement amount to exactly match the demand figure. It will end up lower than the initial demand figure.
Once the Demand is Made, How Long should it Take?
In general, it takes a few weeks to a few months or sometimes more to settle a case after the initial letter of demand is sent. In simple cases where the damages are not major, the case settlement process can happen in a month or two after the demand letter. But every case is different, and your attorney will help you know what to expect. The time it takes to settle could be affected by:
- The number of files the claim’s adjustor is handling.
- Whether or not the claim has been well-documented and prepared
- How clear-cut is liablity?
- Whether or not there is any culpability on your part
- Was anyone else hurt?
- The internal claims process of the insurance company involved. This includes the number of supervisors required for approval of the offer.
- How agreeable your attorney’s demand figure is.
- The time of year, if your adjuster is swamped, it may take awhile.
- The state of the economy in relation to your claim.
- Could anyone else be responsible for your injuries?
So if they will low-ball me, why not lead with an enormous demand amount?
If you don’t have interest in settling, go ahead and do just that. Think about it this way, if someone came to you and wanted to buy your car. You thought it was worth about $30,000 but the buyer led with an offer of only $1,000, would you even bother to counter offer, or would you look elsewhere?
People commonly believe that the lawyer for the injured party should request a very high figure initially, since the carrier will respond with a lower figure in negotiations. This tactic doesn’t work. If the demand figure is ridiculously high in comparison to the evidence, the insurance companies will not even respond.
Asking for a high demand figure will just delay the process, and sometimes make the insurance carrier refuse to negotiate at all with your attorney. Your St. George attorney will use his expertise to make a reasonable demand for you. Because he is familiar with settlement negotiations for personal injury claims, he will have the best strategy for the amount of the demand figure.
After the insurance company and my attorney agree upon settlement, how long will it take to get my money?
After an agreement has been reached between your attorney and the insurance carrier, the settlement process will take about two to six weeks. This is the average amount of time to sign all the documents, get the check, and make dispersements to all appropriate parties involved. There are sometimes exceptions, but the process usually takes about a month.
Doe Anything Else Need to be Done Before I see the Money in my Hand?
There are a few steps here:
The insurance company is paying you this sum of money in exchange for your giving up your right to sue for the accident. Before any money changes hands, they will require you and your spouse to sign a release of liability and return it. They want to make sure all their I’s are dotted and their T’s are crossed before they pay you anything at all. Read the release carefully. You cannot accept their money, and then sue them for the same accident down the road.
- Your attorney will need to make payment for any medical bills that have not yet been paid in full, and also reimburse any health insurance company that has covered medical expenses for your injury.
- After all the bills are paid, all that remains is your attorneys costs and fees. At McMullin Injury Law, we keep costs as minimal as possible. We don’t charge you for office supplies, time, etc. To us, costs are things that require us to write a check to someone else specifically in the pursuit of your case. Once costs are reimbursed, attorney fees are taken out, and the rest is turned over to the client.
After all of the other fees (attorneys’ fees, medical bills, liens, other costs) will there be anything left for me?
At McMullin Injury Law, our ultimate goal is to maximize your recovery. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the client comes away as the winner. We won’t take a case unless we add value. If you don’t need an attorney, we will tell you that up front. We are able to achieve results for our clients that they would not be able to achieve on their own.
It is important to keep in mind that law allows compensation for your injury—which is compensation for lost income, medical expenses, and an amount for pain and suffering. The law does not allow for any injured parties to “get wealthy” from personal injury claims, especially small claims. Your St. George attorney will do the very best for you to make sure you are fairly compensated and get what you deserve.