If you have been injured in accident, you may be entitled to compensation. This does not mean, however, that you must file a lawsuit and take your case to a jury. Most personal injury claims do not go to trial, but are resolved by means of an out-of-court settlement between the parties. An experienced Vancouver injury lawyer can answer questions about settlement negotiation process and obtain the compensation you deserve. Below, we answer some of the questions we are often asked by our clients about the settlement process. If you have other questions, let us know.
What does it mean to “settle” my case?
A settlement in a personal injury case occurs when you, as the injured party, accept an offer of consideration (most often in the form of money) to resolve your claims against the person or entity that caused your injuries. It is, essentially, your agreement to accept monetary compensation in lieu of filing a lawsuit and/or taking your case to a jury. Once a settlement is reached, you will sign a legal document (called a release) that confirms the terms of the settlement. When the settlement is finalized, your injury claim is over and you may not assert a future claim against that person or company for causing your injuries.
Why do most cases settle?
It can be beneficial to both parties to achieve a settlement and remove the risk and uncertainty of a jury trial. A settlement guarantees that the injured person will receive compensation for his injuries and avoids the possibility that a jury will not award a sufficient amount of compensation. For the insurance company, a settlement guarantees that a jury will not award a verdict in excess of the value of the case or the insured’s policy limits. A settlement also prevents a judgment against the person at fault and avoids adverse publicity or bad press.
When do settlement negotiations begin?
In most cases, negotiations formally begin when the full extent of your injuries is known and your condition has stabilized. Your Vancouver injury lawyer will send the defendant and his counsel and/or the insurance company a demand letter. In most cases, the insurance company will respond with a low settlement offer, and the back and forth begins. In a very real sense, though, negotiations begin as soon as you or your Vancouver injury lawyer notifies the responsible party that he caused you to be injured. Everything you and your attorney do in relation to your claim should be viewed with an eye toward obtaining the highest possible settlement.
Once negotiations begin, am I guaranteed to receive a settlement?
Although a settlement can occur at any time after your accident, including on the steps of the courthouse on your way to trial, some cases do not settle. Negotiating a settlement can be tricky. The claims adjuster will be trying to pay you as little as possible and will be looking for ways to discredit your claim, undermine your confidence and wear you down. In the end, the insurance company may not make an offer or might make an offer that is so unreasonable that you will have no choice but to go to trial.
How can a Vancouver injury lawyer help me during negotiations?
Having a Vancouver injury lawyer on your side during settlement discussions allows you to negotiate from a position of strength. We can help you:
Establish a settlement goal.
What is your case worth? What is the best-case scenario? What is the lowest amount you would be willing to accept?
Present your strongest case.
An experienced injury lawyer knows what the insurance company needs to hear, and will present your case in a way that will maximize your settlement. Most insurance adjusters have heard far too many tales of claimants exaggerating injuries not supported by medical treatment. Your attorney will gather evidence of the severity of the accident; your medical bills and treatment; your lost wages; and other objective signs of your injury and the way the accident has impacted your day-to-day life, and package all this evidence into a compelling settlement demand.
Know when to quit.
Be prepared for the fact that your case may not settle and you will have to litigate. Your Vancouver injury lawyer won’t waste time trying to convince an unreasonable adjuster that you have a valid claim. He will, instead, pursue your right to fair compensation through the court system.
Contact a Vancouver Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident, you may be contemplating filing a lawsuit. Perhaps you are talking with an insurance adjuster for the party responsible for your injuries. In either scenario, you will have more success if you have a Vancouver injury lawyer on your side, looking out for your best interests. Call us today or send us a text, at 360-693-2919, for a free case evaluation.