What is a Settlement?
A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant outside of court. In a settlement, the insurance company typically agrees to pay you more money than they first offered for your claim.
Many plaintiffs would rather settle than go to court because they might not get anything if they go to court.
After an accident, you may need to get compensated for your injuries, or you may have to compensate for someone else’s. If you know what to expect from a settlement, you can choose whether to take it or go to court. No matter what you decide, an experienced lawyer can help.
When Do Settlements Happen in the Lawsuit Process?
Settlements can happen at any time before the judge decides your case. They can happen:
- While the trial is going on. Once the trial has started, no rule says settlements can’t be made. If one side thinks the trial is going against them, they might offer to settle. Sometimes, a settlement is reached while the jury is still debating.
- While the lawsuit is going on, but before the trial begins. This is when settlements happen most often.
- During the first talks with the insurance company, before a lawsuit has even been filed.
The only actual limit is that you can’t settle once the jury has decided and the judge has made a decision. At this point, the judge’s decision is a legal order, and the parties can no longer come to a different agreement.
Why Are Settlements So Common?
Most personal injury lawsuits, like those involving car accidents and premise liability, end in a settlement. This is because:
- Most Defendants Are Powerful Insurance Companies: Accident claims are part of an insurance company’s business, so they set aside money to pay out claims. When they settle cases instead of going to trial, they don’t have to take significant risks with the costs. Controlling risk is a crucial part of how they run their business.
- Settlements Are Quiet: When a court hands down a verdict, it is public knowledge that one side did wrong to the other. Settlements are less public. They can be kept entirely private if both parties agree, and unlike a trial verdict, they don’t make a company look bad.
- Most Victims Want to Stay Out of Court: A trial isn’t just expensive and uncertain for the person on trial. The person hurt in an accident may want to save money or avoid a long, stressful legal battle. A settlement lets them get their money back much faster.
Should I Settle My Case?
Settlements can be good or bad. Many settlement offers are bogus, and the insurance company is just trying to get rid of your case as cheaply as possible. Other settlement offers are very fair and much safer than going to court.
You should hire a lawyer with a lot of experience who can tell you if a settlement is worth taking. When judging a settlement offer, they will look at several things:
- How strong is your case’s evidence? Do you think most people would agree that you are the victim?
- Does the insurance company have a solid case against you, like a previous injury that might explain your present condition?
- What county or government will be in charge of your trial? Has this court given significant verdicts in cases like yours in the past?
- Is the settlement offer close to the amount you want? If not, will a trial cost more than just taking the smaller amount?
- How understanding would a jury be? Will a jury likely rule in your favor?
In two different situations, two settlement offers for the same amount of money could be seen differently. This is why you need a lawyer who has previously dealt with cases like yours.
Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Brown Firm
If you have been injured, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!
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