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Should I Accept a Settlement for a Personal Injury Claim?

If you sustain injuries from a road accident due to another driver’s negligence, you will probably file a personal injury claim in court. However, before you have a case, the defendant may offer some money and want to settle.

“Accepting or denying the offer may be difficult without proper knowledge of what works in your favor” says R. Andrew Rodriguez.

The case’s intrinsic details will determine the best way forward. But, you should consider a few factors before making your decision. That said, here are a few tips to keep in mind when in such a dilemma.

Consider the Damages

Physical proof is the best way to estimate the damages. Typical scenarios include medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. In such situations, the defendant should offer an amount that will sufficiently compensate for these expenses. Finally, you can go to court if the amount offered is insufficient to cover present and future expenses.

However, in some cases, calculating damages can be complicated. For example, compensation for pain and suffering to an individual and/or family due to an accident is a difficult affair.

An attorney with experience in estimating these costs can be of great assistance. The court may award punitive damages to hold the defendant accountable for their actions.

How Strong is the case?

If you lack concrete evidence to present in court, it is advisable to accept the offer as it is your best chance. The defendant may have supporting evidence that could work against you.

You can proceed to trial if you have strong evidence like medical and police reports, pictures, videos, and experts ready to testify in court. In this case, you have sufficient evidence to sway the judge or jury to rule in your favor.

The Publicity Associated With Your Case

Personal injury claims are civil cases and will most likely draw attention. If you are uncomfortable with being in the public eye, it may be practical to accept a settlement offer as it will prevent the case from going public.

However, the party at fault could also be avoiding publicity due to reasons best known to them. Avoiding attention could put you in a better-negotiating position, thereby receiving a higher settlement from the defendant.

The Time Frame of the Case

Personal injury claims can drag in court from a few months to two years.  It is important to note that clients requiring urgent financial relief have their cases prioritized in some states.

Factors that may cause the case to drag on further include large claims and legal issues surrounding your case. Therefore, it is a good idea to accept the offer or request a better one if the case has a lengthy discovery process, aggravating the  situation.

What Should You Do if the Court Date Has Already Been Set?

If the defendant offers a settlement after a court date is set, you can still accept the offer if it is sufficient. However, you will have to contact the court to inform them of the settlement. Finally, you must file a notice of withdrawal after the total amount has been paid.

What if I Decline the Offer?

Everything will continue as scheduled if you turn down the offer to settle. You will proceed to trial, where a judge will hear your case.

The Takeaway

Before accepting an offer presented by the defendant, you should consider the above factors as a guideline. Settling has its advantages and disadvantages. The most significant advantage is that the case will be solved as soon as possible without publicity, however, you risk getting under-compensated. Regardless, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to guide the course of action.