Personal injury cases are often represented in the media and in movies as big, dramatic court cases that end with one corporation or another shelling out millions to ecstatic plaintiffs. In reality, this is a fairly uncommon scenario. Instead of being argued in court, the majority of injury claims actually begin and end in the conference room due to negotiations and settlements.
How Personal Injury Settlements Work
Negotiations and settlements are essentially a high-stakes, legally-bound haggling system between a plaintiff, or more commonly a plaintiff’s attorney, and an insurance company representative. It typically begins with the plaintiff asking for a maximized amount, knowing full-well that it will drop from there. Next, the insurance adjuster will respond with their counteroffer and why that offer amount was chosen. If the defendant thinks there are holes in the plaintiff’s case, they will cite them and probably choose a completely lowballed amount. Eager plaintiffs or those who aren’t confident in their case’s validity may spring at the chance to take the lowball settlement.
If the personal injury claim is solid, or the amount is clearly not enough to compensate them for their injuries, the plaintiff’s lawyer will return with another counter-demand. Here is where the back-and-forth begins. Each party will need to consider liability, severity of injuries, and the necessary medical treatments to adjust their demands or offers. In a successful negotiation, an amount should be agreed upon after two to four adjustments. After that fourth one, it is probably time to think about taking the case to trial and letting a judge or jury decide who owes who how much.
Why Would Anyone Want to Settle Their Case?
It is true that most settlements end with a number noticeably lower than the initial asking amount. If this is the case, why would a plaintiff ever want to consider settling? On the other hand, why would a defendant, since settling means admitting to wrongdoing in some form or another?
Here are some of the main benefits to settling a case:
- Privacy: Defendants are sometimes less worried about giving money away in compensation and more about people finding out that they did. Imagine a soft drink manufacturer that sent out a bad batch that made someone fall violently ill; they would probably have the funds to pay for their hospitalization but if the details of the case got out, the strength of their reputation could be ruined forever. Settlements are drafted to specific requirements, and can include confidentiality clauses.
- Minimize legal costs: Sometimes a defendant knows they are going to lose their case due to undeniable evidence. Rather than racking up their own cost by dragging out litigation – the party that loses the trial usually must cover court and attorney fees – they can offer a settlement instead.
- Expedience: Speaking of avoiding lengthy litigation, a settlement also benefits the plaintiff by sidestepping the court. Matters that require a judge or jury can take months, or possibly years, to conclude. On the contrary, a settlement might take weeks to draft and sign. This means getting compensation and financial relief sooner rather than later.
- Guaranteed win: As an investigation in an accident or incident carries on, a plaintiff might start to realize that their argument wasn’t as waterproof as they first thought. Accepting a settlement offer, even if it somewhat low compared to the first demand, is better than risking getting nothing and paying court fees by following through with a less-than-solid claim.
For Settlements & Arguments
Whether you want to settle your claim or think you can do better in court, you should allow Clawson & Clawson, LLP to be your legal guides. Our Colorado Springs personal injury attorneys have a collective 120+ years of legal experience, and some are included in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®. Learn how to empower your claim with our caliber of service by contacting us online today.