Personal Injury Suits and Insurance Settlements
Personal Injury Lawsuits, in General
Broadly, a personal injury lawsuit compensates a victim for harm sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. In most cases, the plaintiff is pursuing the defendant for reimbursement for property damage, physical harm, lost wages and other noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
After a car accident, the case begins when the plaintiff submits all evidence of the incident (including property damage or injuries) to the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company. He or she makes a settlement demand on the defendant (or insurance company) for a specific amount of compensation. If the plaintiff and defendant are able to arrive at an agreement, the case is resolved.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the plaintiff must file a lawsuit in court. The case then proceeds to the trial stage. At the litigation level, a jury (usually, but sometimes a judge) decides whether the defendant was negligent. If the defendant is found to have been careless, the jury will decide what compensation should be awarded to the victim.
However, the goal of a personal injury suit is to settle. Most cases do not reach the trial stage, and plaintiffs often negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company in an effort to reach a suitable agreement. It is not always worth the time and money to take a case to trial. Furthermore, when a case is negotiated, the plaintiff can still achieve his or her fair share of recovery.
Negotiation: Reaching a Settlement With the Insurance Company
If you attempt to negotiate with an insurance company for your recovery, you have to be prepared. If you have been severely injured in a car accident, this does not necessarily mean that the insurance company will cover all of your expenses. Many believe that cases settle for three times greater than medical specials (calculated damages based on a person’s medical bills); however this is not true. When claims are settled, the results can vary, depending on the details of each case. Case results depend heavily on the settlement process, which is often a negotiation.
In negotiating a case, the insurance company may offer a settlement, and you may not know if this amount is adequate. For this reason, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. A lawyer you can guide you through complex legal issues.
When an insurance company evaluates a case, it values a settlement amount based on the worth of the case if it were to go to trial. Various elements are considered, including witness’ accounts, medical records and other factors that paint a picture of the case. Calculations can vary significantly because insurance companies utilize no uniform equation.
But remember – the insurance company wants to save money. Therefore, in its appraisal of your case, it is not aiming to maximize your gain.
In such a case, a lawyer can assist you in reaching an appropriate settlement. Lawyers spend ample time in negotiations and court proceedings, which give them the tools and experience to assess cases like yours.
Furthermore, attorneys have great dispute-resolution skills. They know how to negotiate – especially with insurance companies.
Unlike an insurance company, your lawyer has a duty to look out for your interests in the case. For that reason, if you have been harmed in a car accident, you may want to retain a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to help you recover what you deserve.