When people think about filing a personal injury lawsuit, they may believe their case will have to go to trial for a resolution. However, if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, there are usually two ways to obtain compensation from the at-fault party. Your case can either settle with the insurance company or be decided by a jury.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement is a sum of money offered to you out of court by the insurance company as compensation for the injuries their insured caused you to suffer. This offer can be made very early in a case by the insurance adjuster. A settlement can also be offered after a case goes through the litigation process, on the eve of trial.
Although a settlement can be made by the at-fault party’s insurance company shortly after the accident, it’s important to understand that this is usually a lowball offer. Generally, a settlement offer should not be accepted until the full extent of your injuries is known and maximum medical improvement has been reached. An experienced personal injury attorney can best advise you regarding whether a settlement offer is fair — importantly, they can negotiate a higher amount on your behalf.
Is Settling a Case Better Than Going to Trial?
There are various pros and cons to settling a personal injury matter versus going to trial. The best course of action will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of the plaintiff’s case. However, most personal injury lawsuits settle for the following reasons:
- Settlement can allow the defendant to control their risk — If liability is clear cut, the insurance company may be more willing to offer a fair settlement to avoid exposure to their insured.
- Settlement allows a plaintiff to avoid the uncertainties of trial — Not only can trials be lengthy, but they are also public and the outcome can be uncertain. When a case is settled, a plaintiff knows the amount of compensation they are accepting, unlike with a jury verdict.
- A settlement allows the parties to have control over the outcome — One of the biggest incentives for both parties in settling a case is that the process allows them to have control over the outcome. Each side gets to negotiate the amount and the terms of the settlement.
Settling out of court can also save time and money, in addition to helping a plaintiff avoid any further stress. But if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement amount despite vigorous negotiations, it may be best to have the case decided by a jury.
What Is the Process to Obtain a Settlement?
In the settlement process, the insurance company may make an offer that the plaintiff can either accept or refuse. The plaintiff may also submit a counteroffer to the adjuster. The settlement negotiation process can continue for weeks or even months while a case is going through the litigation process. During negotiations, disputes may arise in connection with issues such as insurance coverage, liability, the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the nature of the plaintiff’s medical treatment.
Once a settlement amount has been accepted, a release is signed by both sides. This is a contract in which the insurance company agrees to pay out a certain sum of money in exchange for the plaintiff agreeing not to make any further claims against the insurance company or their insured.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence, it’s important to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side who can secure the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at the Dearie Law Firm, P.C. are skilled negotiators and adept litigators who are committed to ensuring every client obtains the compensation they deserve.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.