Determining a good settlement offer requires detailed information about your case and experience evaluating fair case value.
Some considerations a lawyer will weigh are:
- The severity of yours or a loved one’s injuries.
- The extent of your economic damages—lost income, medical expenses, property damage, and other losses with a clear monetary value.
- The cost of your non-economic damages, including but not limited to pain, suffering and emotional distress.
- Whether there are other liable parties to seek recovery from.
A personal injury attorney may also consider the strength of evidence in your case. Say there is clear and convincing evidence of negligence and the damages you’ve suffered. In such a case, your lawyer may push for more recovery than if the evidence is weak.
Who Determines What Is a Good Settlement Offer?
You and your attorney should work together to determine a fair settlement offer. The lawyer will generally give you his or her best advice about what is appropriate under the circumstances of your case, but ultimately the decision to settle is solely yours.
To arrive at a fair settlement figure, your lawyer may:
- Consult your doctors to learn about your injuries
- Obtain all documentation of your damages
- Calculate the monetary cost of both economic and non-economic damages
- Review the evidence regarding negligence of the at-fault party
- Consider the risks and benefits of rejecting a settlement offer and proceeding to litigation and/or trial
Though each personal injury case is unique, your lawyer should rely on their experience to negotiate a fair settlement figure. Your lawyer should have an idea, for example, what the injuries involved in your case might be valued at based on their results in past cases.
Calculating an appropriate settlement offer is not easy. The process involves consideration of laws applicable to your case, evaluation of past and future damages, the opposing side’s evidence and many other things that most non-lawyers are not familiar with.
The point is that you will want the assistance of an attorney in determining whether a settlement offer is fair.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover in a Settlement?
The damages you can receive compensation for often depend on the damages you’ve suffered.
Losses differ between each client, but a personal injury lawyer may pursue coverage for:
- Pain and suffering: This can include physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, disfigurement, sleep problems, grief, anxiety, depression, and other types of non-economic loss.
- Lost income: Past and future lost earnings are recoverable.
- Other professional damages: In addition to past lost income, you may receive compensation for lost earning power, missed opportunities for bonuses and promotions, and loss of professional benefits like health insurance.
- Healthcare expenses: Any medical costs resulting from another person’s negligence can be recovered.
- Property costs: The cost of repairing or replacing damaged property may be the liable party’s to pay.
- A loved one’s death: Wrongful death cases can involve recoverable damages such as loss of the relationship (e.g. love, companionship, guidance, and moral support), funeral expenses, lost parental guidance, and loss of financial support.
Settling Is Not the Only Option in Civil Cases—Just the Most Common One
Settling is not the only way to resolve a personal injury case. However, settling is the most common outcome for civil cases.
If liable parties never extend a good settlement offer, your lawyer may proceed to file a lawsuit, or, if litigation has started, proceed to trial. Regardless of the posture of the case, it can be settled at any time before there is a verdict or judgment.
How Your Lawyer May Fight for a Good Settlement Offer
Your attorney should participate in every step of the legal process as they work towards settlement negotiations.
A lawyer’s responsibility in a civil case generally includes:
- Investigating the accident: During the investigation, your lawyer should gather useful evidence, record witness accounts, and gain a complete understanding of the events that led to your lawsuit.
- Documenting your damages: Your lawyer may identify your losses with proof of lost income, medical bills, doctors’ records, medical records and other documentation of your damages.
- Managing communications: Anyone else involved in your case—including insurance companies and other lawyers—should have to go through your attorney.
- Negotiating a settlement: Defendants in civil cases rarely, if ever, provide fair compensation without being pushed to do so. Your attorney may engage in tense, prolonged negotiations or litigation to secure the settlement you deserve.
Though cases often eventually settle before trial, your lawyer should proceed without hesitation if a trial is appropriate in your case.
Before you hire a lawyer, you should review their website for prior case results. A law firm that has resolved cases through both settlements and verdicts will have the experience of being willing to go to trial when necessary.
What if I Don’t Hire a Lawyer?
Significant compensation can be at stake in your case. This is especially true of cases involving serious injuries, which can take an immense financial toll on the victim and their loved ones.
You want to present the strongest case possible. Hiring a lawyer may allow you to do so.
Reasons that you want to hire a lawyer rather than handling your own case include:
- A lawyer’s experience prepares them help maximize the value of your case
- A lawyer’s legal knowledge allows them to navigate the legal process seamlessly
- Your injuries may limit your physically and cognitively
- Your inexperience can make it difficult to win your case
A lawyer can take your legal concerns off your hands, fighting for the financial recovery you deserve. This may allow you to focus better on your recovery and other important matters in your life.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation About Your Case
You should not wait to retain a personal injury attorney. You may face one or more deadlines related to your case. If you miss those deadlines your case can be over before it has a chance to begin.
Do your research and contact a personal injury attorney to start your case today.