The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can go it alone.
Receiving a settlement for a car accident, workplace injury, slip-and-fall injury, or other negligent act might seem as simple as signing an agreement and walking out with a check. However, there are many complicated factors that have an impact on settlement negotiations, and it is important to protect your rights throughout the process.
Here is a quick look at the ways a personal injury attorney can help the settlement process:
First and foremost, you want to make sure you’re not being shortchanged in the settlement process. The plaintiff in a personal injury case will often jump at the first settlement amount that is offered, but that first offer often pales in comparison to the true cost of the accident. Defendants, insurance adjusters, and their attorneys understand that they are waving a large sum of money at the plaintiff at a time when he or she may be strapped for cash, due to medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other costs of the accident.
Unless the case is a class-action lawsuit or a complex litigated settlement (when the settlement is reviewed and approved by a judge), there is typically no outside oversight for the settlement offer. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an attorney who can tell you how much you truly deserve in a settlement. Experienced personal injury attorneys have years’ worth of experience calculating the cost of an accident, and they can spot an unfair settlement offer from a mile away.
Not only can an experienced attorney help you identify an unfair settlement, offer, he or she can also help you get a better offer in the first place. Personal injury attorneys who deal with cases like yours day in and day out have a better understanding of what makes for a successful case and how your case stacks up to others. This will help you negotiate a stronger settlement and will give you a good idea of the advantages—and disadvantages—of your unique case.
A personal injury attorney can also offer advice on parts of the process you may never have considered, such as how the settlement will be paid out. When it comes to paying taxes on your settlement award, an experienced attorney can help you figure out whether it’s better to receive the payments monthly, as a lump sum, or through another arrangement.
Without an attorney, the defendant and his or her legal team will not take your case as seriously. In addition, you will not have the negotiating power of backing out if you do not retain an attorney. (Without an attorney, the other side will know that you have no option but to settle—fair or not.) A personal injury attorney can advise you about the details of the settlement process and give recommendations about pursuing a larger settlement or backing out to pursue litigation.