Personal Injury:

Settlement

Most personal injury claims do not reach a civil court trial; they are resolved earlier through a negotiated personal injury settlement among the parties. An informal settlement in a personal injury case can even take place before any lawsuit is filed. Through a personal injury settlement, the plaintiff agrees to give up the right to pursue any further legal action in connection with the accident or injury, in exchange for the payment of an agreed-upon sum of money from the defendant or an insurance company. Rarely, instead of paying money, the defendant will agree to perform (or cease performing) a certain action.
If you are considering settling a legal claim after an accident or injury, or if you have received an accident settlement offer, you should talk to your personal injury attorney and receive his or her thorough assessment of the case and the prospects for settlement. You and your attorney should consider the following points:
  • The amount the case is worth in a range of dollar amounts.
  • Personal injury verdicts and settlements in similar cases.
  • Your odds of winning at trial.
  • Unfavorable publicity for either side.
  • The amount of personal information that could be revealed at trial or through further discovery.
  • Possible disclosure of business information or trade secrets.
  • When the case is likely to be called for trial.
  • Practical difficulties in trying the case.
  • Weaknesses in your evidence.
  • Weaknesses in your opponent's evidence.
  • The amount of the defendant's insurance coverage.
  • The defendant's own monetary resources.
  • The defendant's lawyer's negotiation tactics.
  • If you are the plaintiff, ask how much of the settlement proceeds will be applied to your lawyer's fee and your expenses.
  • If you are the plaintiff, ask how the settlement payments will affect your federal and state income taxes.
  • What you are willing to concede in order to get the case settled.
  • The minimum amount you will accept.

Oftentimes, personal injury settlements are preferable to going to court because they are generally simpler, less time-consuming, and less stressful.  Your personal injury attorney has the experience and knowledge necessary to advise you whether a trial is in your best interest, or whether you should negotiate for a higher settlement (as the plaintiff), a lower settlement (as the defendant), or accept the current terms of the settlement you have been offered.  

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