Early Personal Injury Settlements: When to Agree—Or Think Twice
Should You Settle Early?
Most personal injury cases—as many as 95 percent of them, in fact—end with a settlement, and for good reason. If you’ve received a fair offer that will compensate you for your injuries and damages, a settlement can give you closure and let you get back to your life without going through the long process of litigation and a trial.
However, you also need to be extremely wary of settlement offers—especially if they arrive very shortly after your injury. The simple truth is that insurance companies aren’t in the business of handing out settlements to make amends; many times, they’re offering you a settlement because they want to save money by avoiding the litigation process—or giving you less than you deserve. Settlements almost always involve a negotiation process, and just like in any negotiation, the insurance company will try to get you to accept the lowest offer they can.
There’s an old saying that applies to settlement negotiation: “A good compromise is one where both parties walk away unhappy.” That’s a little bit of a pessimistic take on negotiation, but there’s a grain of truth to it: To reach any real compromise, both sides have to give up some of what they want.
To summarize, you shouldn’t be outright opposed to accepting a good settlement offer, even shortly after your injury. After all, a fair settlement can get you reasonable compensation, prevent a lengthy trial, and allow everyone involved to move on. However, you should call an attorney immediately if you receive a settlement offer of any kind. Then, you and your attorney can carefully evaluate any settlement offer to decide whether the offer is reasonable and addresses all your damages.
How Do I Know if the Settlement Offer I Received Is a Good One?
There are a lot of factors that come into play when you and your attorney decide whether a settlement offer is right for you. Here are four of the primary concerns you need to look at:
- The amount the insurance company is offering. Is the settlement offer drastically lower than the damages you’re seeking? If it is, then you may want to reject the offer. However, if you’re able to get a large portion of the damages you’re seeking without having to go through the long process of litigation, trial, and appeals, then it’s difficult to argue against accepting a settlement.An accomplished personal injury attorney can provide invaluable help in considering an offer because they have the experience of prior successful settlements to draw from. And it’s much easier to figure out if an insurance company is trying to take advantage of you with the help of an attorney because they have seen so many cases that are similar to yours and what they settled for.
The settlement evaluation process is also a good time for you and your attorney to go over your damages once again and make sure you’ve accounted for everything, including all the costs related to the injury or accident in question and any ongoing or future costs as well. Make sure that what you’re accepting (or asking for) is really enough to compensate you for your injuries and associated costs.
- The outlook for the length of a trial. A trial (and all the work leading up to it) is not a quick and easy process—many civil suits take years to work their way through the court system. Your attorney can help advise you about whether your trial is likely to take a long time to resolve, and this can affect how you consider a settlement offer. If you have a strong outlook for a speedy and successful trial, then you may want to be a bit more unyielding in your negotiations, but if your case is likely to experience long delays, then you may want to take a more open-minded approach to offers.However, be sure not to display reluctance to go to trial. If the insurance company believes that they can simply outlast your resolve in pursuing your case, then they will most likely make lower offers. It’s important to establish that you and your attorney are ready and willing to follow through and take the case to trial if necessary.
- The precedent set by similar cases. No settlement exists in a vacuum, so it’s important to know how past cases similar to yours played out: Did they win in court, and what were the damages awarded? This can help give you an idea of your case’s chances at trial and what your case might be worth in the event of a verdict in your favor. Again, your attorney has a wealth of prior experience and knowledge in their field to draw from in making this evaluation, so their advice will be an invaluable asset here.
- The evidence in your particular case. Make sure to go through all of the evidence in your case with the help of your attorney to assess your odds of a successful trial. Your attorney can help you view your case through the eyes of a jury and point out any weak points or potential pitfalls that might surface in court. If you and your attorney believe that your case has a high probability of success, then you may want to consider only the most favorable settlement offers, but you should be realistic about any potential problems with your case and factor them into your decision regarding a settlement offer.
Call Hossley & Embry if You’ve Been Injured
An experienced personal injury attorney, like the ones at Hossley & Embry, is your most important resource in considering any settlement offer. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, please call Hossley & Embry at (866) 522-9265 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also fill out the form on this page, and we will get in touch promptly. We offer free consultations, and we have the resources available (including charter aircraft) to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.
Hirby, J. (n.d.). Pre-trial settlement percentage: Statistics on personal injury settlements.The Law Dictionary. Retrieved from http://thelawdictionary.org/article/pre-trial-settlement-percentage-statistics-on-personal-injury-settlements/