How To Know When It’s Time To Settle Your Personal Injury Case
If you are injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. You deserve monetary compensation for the cost of your injuries, and if you work with an attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible, you are likely to get it. Your lawsuit can be resolved in one of two ways; you and your lawyer can negotiate and settle with the party on the receiving end of your lawsuit for an agreeable amount, or you and your lawyer can take the other party to court and let a jury or judge decide how much you should receive.
There are pros and cons to both options. Statistics show that 90% of personal cases do settle out of court before the trial phase begins, but 15% of cases that go to trial do result in a payout that was higher than previous offers. If you have a personal injury case pending, you may be wondering how to know whether you should settle and when you should make that decision. Here are a few tips, from experienced Florida personal injury lawyers, to help you figure out how to know when it’s time to settle your personal injury case!
Have you received more than one offer from the defendant/defendant’s insurer?
It’s not time to settle your personal injury case if you’ve only received one offer from the defendant or their insurance company. The other side knows the heavy financial burden that your injuries have likely placed on you; they know that you may be in a difficult financial situation, that you have mounting medical bills, and that you probably don’t have extensive savings built up to cover all the costs related to your accident. One of their tactics will be to give you a fast initial offer that they hope will be tempting enough to you that you will accept, and they can resolve the matter quickly. However, as with any negotiations, the first offer is never the best one. One Nolo study found that the 70% of participants who held out for a better deal received offers that were $30,700 higher, on average, than initial offers that other participants accepted. Your injuries are doubtless worth much more than their first deal. You shouldn’t settle for less than what you deserve! If you refuse, you will almost certainly get more and better offers.
Will the offer cover your current medical expenses?
One of the easiest ways to determine if it’s time to settle your personal injury case is to compare the offer to your current medical expenses, or those that have accumulated since the accident occurred. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can make the most accurate calculations, but you can make a good estimate by simply gathering all of your medical bills or listing everything you’ve paid for that’s related to your injuries since the incident. For example, if you were in a car crash, you may have paid for ambulatory transport, emergency room care, imaging tests like X-rays, surgery or multiple surgeries, hospitalization, physical therapy, chiropractic care, medications, medical devices, copays, deductibles, transportation to and from appointments, specialized treatment, and more. You may have had to take time off of work without pay, or missing out on overtime pay, in order to heal – it’s important to factor lost wages into the mix as well. Depending on the extent of your injuries, all of this could add up to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the defendant’s or defendant’s insurance company’s offer is not close to covering your expenses, then you shouldn’t settle.
Will the offer cover your future medical expenses?
Current medical expenses aren’t the only thing to consider when deciding whether or not to accept a settlement offer. If your injuries are severe, or if the accident has left you permanently disabled, you may require care for months, years, or for the rest of your life. For example, if you were rear-ended by someone, and suffered a herniated disc, it may take a few months of physical therapy and chiropractic care to get you back to functioning and then regular yearly maintenance after that – you may have to purchase special exercise equipment, for example. If you were hit by a semi-truck, and were paralyzed as a result of the accident, your injuries will necessitate lifelong treatment. You will have to potentially pay for the cost of doctor’s appointments, pain management, assistive devices, in-home care, and more for as long as you are alive, which will be extraordinarily expensive. When your injuries weren’t minor, your settlement shouldn’t be either; don’t accept it if it doesn’t take into account the future cost of treatment. Your lawyer can give you a better idea of what your future medical expenses may amount to, so you can know whether or not it’s time to settle your personal injury case.
Are you at all at fault for the accident? Is your case complex?
One of the biggest reasons why injured accident victims accept settlements rather than take their cases to trial is because doing so is risky. If a judge or jury rules against you, then you could walk away without any amount of money at all, or with less than even the defendant’s initial offer. It may be time to settle your personal injury case if your case is not a clear winner at trial. Your personal injury attorney can tell you what they think that your chances of winning are, but generally, if you contributed to the accident in any way, or if there isn’t enough evidence to back up your claim, then you are likely to recover more in a settlement.
Can you afford to wait through a trial?
Trials aren’t only risky – they’re also time-consuming. It can take months or even years for the trial to take place, as there is a lengthy pre-trial phase that must occur. Even after a verdict is rendered, it can take time to collect the award amount. There are also other costs associated with going to trial. A settlement can be achieved and processed much faster. For injured accident victims who have received a decent offer and can’t afford to wait for a trial to commence in order to pay their bills, it may be time to settle!
What is your attorney telling you?
Your best source of reliable information that’s specific to your personal injury case is your attorney. They have handled cases like yours in the past, and they know how to negotiate with insurance companies in order to succeed. They will let you know when they believe it’s time for you to settle your personal injury case or if they believe that you should take your case to trial, and they will be able to explain their reasoning in order to give you peace of mind.
It’s important to remember that you have a good reason to trust your personal injury lawyer. Besides their experience and expertise, most personal injury lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they collect their legal fees as a percentage of their client’s damages. If they don’t win damages for their client, they make nothing. The higher amount they are able to win, the more they get paid. Your lawyer has a financial incentive to make sure you receive as much as possible, which means they are going to give you trustworthy advice!
If you’ve been injured, call The Florida Law Group.
The Florida Law Group has recovered over $1 billion dollars for injured accident victims since 1984. We have over 100 years of combined experience on our team. Our lead attorney, Chris Limberopoulos, is a board certified civil trial specialist, which is a rare distinction that few lawyers have achieved! If you are contemplating whether or not to pursue legal action for your injuries, or want to seek a second opinion on whether or not you should settle your pending case, call our office today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.