Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. Only a small percentage of these cases wind up going to court. In most cases, it is better for the parties at odds to try to settle the case out of court.
When do settlement discussions start?
After the civil lawsuit begins, discussions will not start until the defense attorney has conducted pretrial discovery. Depositions (taking statements from key persons or institutions involved) and interrogatories (answers to questions posed by one party to the other that are written and must be answered) are some of the tools that may be used. Insurance companies will probably not want to discuss a settlement until they have all of the facts.
If the case is more complex, the attorney will probably not want to discuss the settlement until the plaintiff’s lawyer has spoken with the witnesses. They want to make sure that the plaintiff’s attorney has done everything to prepare the case for trial.
The defense attorney may file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The defendant may not want to talk about the settlement until the court makes a ruling. If the motion is denied, then it becomes time to start discussing a settlement. It is important to remember that every case is different. The defendant may want to talk about the motion while the attorneys are considering it.
Good attorneys do not want to come across as being desperate. If the defendant thinks that the plaintiff is desperate, then they may give a low-ball settlement offer. That is why attorneys should wait until the defense attorney asks them for a demand settlement.
How are Settlements Discussed?
If the case is small, then the personal injury lawyer may discuss the settlement over the phone. A settlement letter may also be demanded. The defense attorney might not respond to the offer. If the offer is too high, then the defense may make a counteroffer. That is when the bargaining will start. If the lawyers are unable to agree to a settlement, then mediation or binding arbitration may be the next step.
A personal injury lawyer, defense attorney, and the clients may go to mediation. Most courts require that both parties attend mediation in order to settle the case. Mediation can be done with a neutral judge or mediator who is not working on the case. Mediation can last several hours or days. Even though mediation does not always work, it has a good track record of settling cases.
How Long Does it Take?
Settlement negotiations can take a long time- from months to years. There are many reasons that a settlement negotiation can take a long time based on the potential size of the settlement amount or the reluctance of the defendant to agree on it. That is why you should not be discouraged. The settlement negotiation will go on as long as the lawyers are talking.
How to Settle the Case
If the client accepts the defendant’s settlement, then the case is over. Lawyers cannot accept a settlement unless the client agrees to it. The attorney has to let the defendant know that the settlement has been accepted via email, fax, letter or phone call.
There is no Turning Back
One of the most important things that you can remember about a settlement is that the case is closed once you accept the offer. This is the rule in almost every state. Even if you change your mind five minutes after the settlement is accepted, it still will not make a difference. You likely will not be able to go to court to reverse the settlement. That is why it is important to read the terms and conditions of the settlement carefully.
Tate Law Group has long experience of negotiating settlements. Our vast experience helps us set the right expectations for you when it comes to waiting for a final decision. Call us today if you are thinking about filing suit and need a personal injury lawyer on your side.