The issue of settling personal injury lawsuits is one that occupies the minds of many people given that there are around 400,000 personal injury claims filed every year in the United States.
Out of all of the personal injury cases, motor vehicle accidents were the most frequent causes of injury, making up over half of all cases. The balance (48 per cent) include medical malpractice (15 per cent), product liability injury situation (5 per cent) and the rest comprising all manner of injury.
These statistics show just how much of a range of personal injuries there are. But, clearly, there are far more accidents on the road than there are malfunctioning mobile phones or dodgy dental work!
For claimants, those who are injured and seek compensation, the important issue becomes what to do – file, or settle?
That process alone is a major headache for many given the medical, financial, family and overall emotional distress that can follow any personal injury situation. It requires some careful thought and advice from qualified experts to make the right decision.
It also leads to the question of how many personal injury lawsuits actually settle – and the answer, in broad terms, is the vast major of such lawsuits.
Factors to Consider Before Filing a Claim
Having the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney is key at this time. While we may have all heard a lot about fees, charges and frustrations in dealing with personal injury law and lawyers, there is a range of issues that require an experienced attorney who can assist in making the key decision about filing a claim for a personal injury lawsuit and – just as important – how and when you should settle such a lawsuit.
There are some key questions you lawyer will want to know, including the following three:
● Was whoever injured you negligent? Can you prove this negligence?
● Are there damages and injuries as a result of this negligence?
● Can you reach the person who caused your injuries? Are they someone who will be able
to pay for your damages?
Answering these questions will help determine the likely success of your claim and whether you should be proceeding with it.
Remember too that of those cases that go to trial, the victim has the opportunity to potentially recover punitive damages, which can significantly affect the ultimate damages that will be received.
But, as with the cases itself, the question of proceeding with the case and succeeding with punitive damages is something that only time – and (hopefully) a good lawyer can do.
What percentage of personal injury cases settle, and how many
go to trial?
Statistics by the US Government show that only some 5 per cent of personal injury cases end up in trial while the rest settle before getting to trial, often settling quickly. Another statistic of interest indicates that, out of those cases that do end up in court, about 90 per cent end up losing.
And the few cases that end up winning in court do much better as far as the amount of compensation received when there is a jury than when the verdict comes from a judge.
One of the key elements in most personal injury cases is insurance. This often has a major effect on settlement.
But so too is the fact that those involve in litigation are quite different from those who are not involved in personal injury litigation, as disclosed in one report involving a cohort of litigants and showing that those with false or exaggerated claims of injury are actually rewarded by the legal system.
What is the main reason why so many personal injury cases end
Settling provides the victim with a faster time to get matters out of the way and also to control the negotiations in a way that will achieve a result that all parties can live with.
Trials can take months or even years, whereas a settlement can be achieved in a few short months and there is the chance for the attorney to control the negotiations with less stress than is involved with a personal injury trial and all its uncertainties.
However, the advantage of a trial is receiving a greater amount by way of a damages aware. A settlement necessarily involves a compromise with the removal of the right to go to court and to recover punitive damages, for instance. Even further information that might come to light is something that will have no effect upon what you can get following a settlement.
One of the key elements in most personal injury cases is insurance. This has a major effect on settlement.
The issue of how much insurance the person causing the injury as (the tortfeasor) is an essential element in this process. But how do you find that answer? There are a range of questions here such as whether you are underinsured, what will trigger the insurance cover, the requirement necessary to notify the insurance company of coverage, what torts are covered by the insurance and so forth.
You may find that the other party has an experienced attorney while you are trying to negotiate on your own. Negotiating these cases takes time; it usually involves some back and forth from both parties and, if there is no possibility of an agreement, the case might have to end up in court.
How can you increase your chances of success in personal injury cases?
Settle or Not to Settle
That, of course, is the question and anyone facing that decision obviously needs to have sound legal advice from an experienced lawyer who can help work through the issues surrounding a particular lawsuit.
Deciding whether or not to settle is a question that varies from case to case. In some cases, the insurance company’s final offer is insultingly low and you’re better off going to court. In other cases, litigation might just be too risky and the insurance company’s final offer is actually fair.
Personal injury lawyers at Maho Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law recommend getting legal help as soon as possible to ensure that the evidence is still fresh and your lawyer will have time to conduct a thorough investigation and build a strong case. Look for an attorney that will work on a contingency basis if at all possible and ensure that you obtain the best advice you can before making that ‘settle, or not settle’ decision.
Source: Maho Prentice Attorneys