There often comes a time during the personal injury process where the client and the attorney collaborate to make a very important decision: whether to settle the case. If you have a premises liability case, a car accident case, or a general personal injury claim, you may have to decide whether to enter into a settlement agreement or to file a lawsuit.
A good percentage of personal injury cases will start with a claim. A claim is a more informal legal process in which your attorney and an insurance company will evaluate your case. Documents may be exchanged and statements may be given during the claims process.
The general timeline of a lawsuit following a car accident or injury can be a bit longer than some clients might anticipate. The first thing a client should do, after the injury and seeking treatment of course, is to find an attorney that aligns with their values. That attorney should be experienced enough to know what a case is generally worth. Your attorney should also be patient. It’s important for your attorney to focus on listening to all of your concerns and answering all of your questions. An experienced attorney helping you to value your case is imperative when deciding to settle or file a lawsuit. As a client, you don’t want to get “lowballed” when it comes to your injury; you could end up paying for an accident that you did nothing to cause.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
The next step is to identify the party or parties who are liable for the client’s injury. Other parties liable for your injury might include an insurance company, an individual, a corporation, or a contractor. The damages a client could suffer could include emotional, financial, or physical damages. Every lawsuit is unique, which is why our law practice believes so fiercely in the value of personal representation.
Settling a lawsuit can certainly be a less stressful way of dealing with a personal injury claim. Not everyone wants to spend their days dealing with a lawsuit, so the appeal of settling out of court is understandable.
Some of the legal benefits of settling a personal injury or car accident lawsuit out of court may include:
1. You’ll Probably Avoid Extra Costs.
Settling a lawsuit means avoiding the potential extra costs of a lawsuit. Those extra costs can include the cost of the initial filing of the lawsuit, other filing costs related to the case, couriers who run the court documents back and forth, hiring experts, et cetera. These costs will come off of the client’s final cut. Initial filing fees alone often start at about $400, which isn’t cheap! So, even if your case is on a contingency basis, and you aren’t paying for your lawsuit out-of-pocket, all of the combined fees will eventually come out of your final check. Settling during the claims process may possibly increase your net final compensation when considering the costs incurred by filing suit. To know when this is a possibility you, again, must consult with your attorney.
2. You’ll Avoid the Risk of Litigation.
The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, no matter how solid a case a client may think they have, the risk of getting “zeroed” exists when you bring the case to court. A well-experienced attorney should be able to estimate how large or small this risk might be for their client, but that doesn’t mean that “wild card” results haven’t happened before. If you receive a decent settlement offer, and your attorney agrees that it’s an appropriate amount given your injury and financial damages, considering that risk is important when making the decision on whether or not to accept.
3. Your Attorney’s Fees Will Often Be Lower.
Attorney’s fees are often lower if the settlement is reached during the claims process. Once a suit is filed, however, that amount often increases. Attorney’s fees will often go up to 33 1/3 %, or higher. This is because an attorney will likely have to spend much more time and attention once a suit is filed on a personal injury case. If you settle your personal injury case during the claims process, that can sometimes mean a better overall money amount in your pocket. Again, it’s always best to consult with your attorney to determine whether or not this might be the case. Discuss the attorney’s fees with your lawyer at your initial consultation.