Should You Accept a Settlement in a Personal Injury Case?
Most personal injury lawyers, if given only 30 seconds to tell clients the most important thing they wish clients knew, would say that you should not sign a settlement offer letter from an insurance company before talking things over with a lawyer. On the other hand, you sometimes see stories in the news about people who suffered devastating injuries and later filed personal injury lawsuits in which a judge eventually awarded them millions of dollars to compensate them for their medical bills, inability to earn income, and pain and suffering. These two pieces of information are, by themselves, not very helpful if you have just received the hospital bill from when you got injured in a car accident. You certainly can’t afford to pay the bill out of your own funds, but do you have to go through a lawsuit and trial to get the at fault driver to pay? How hard do you have to fight to get the money? It could be a lot easier than you think, with the help of a Jacksonville car accident lawyer.
Settling a Lawsuit Means Getting the Money You Need Without a Big Fight
Only four percent of personal injury lawsuits go to trial; 96 percent of them end in a settlement. Meanwhile, of the cases that go to trial, nine out of ten result in rulings in favor of the defendant. When a lawsuit settles, the plaintiff (the injured person in a personal injury case) gets money from the defendant (the person who caused the accident or was otherwise legally responsible for it). The difference is that, in a settlement, the lawyers for the plaintiff and the defendant negotiate until they agree on how much the defendant should pay; in a trial, the jury and/or a judge decides.
A major reason that many cases settle is that the defendant’s responsibility is clear and the plaintiff’s injuries are serious. When defendants have no other choice but to acknowledge their legal duty to compensate the plaintiff for medical bills and other accident-related losses, they may make a reasonable settlement offer. If the defendant keeps rejecting your lawyer’s requests and the case goes to trial, the court under certain circumstances might order the defendant to pay even more.
From a plaintiff’s perspective, the chances of walking away empty-handed are significantly more if the case goes to trial; but zero percent if you accept a settlement offer from the defendant. Therefore, some plaintiffs agree to settle just days before a trial is scheduled to begin, while some accept settlement offers after only brief negotiations. Another incentive for the plaintiff to settle instead of going to trial is that many trials are public, which means a public discussion of your medical history before and after the accident. Valuing their privacy and avoiding the stress of a public jury trial is a serious settlement consideration for Plaintiffs.
Contact Douglas & Douglas About Personal Injury Cases
A North Florida personal injury lawyer can help you collect damages for your accident-related injuries with or without your case going to trial. And, of course, should a trial be warranted, our trial lawyers are ready to represent you at trial. Contact Douglas & Douglas in Jacksonville, Florida for a free consultation.