No two personal injury cases are identical. While some personal injury cases may settle quickly, others take years before the parties reach an acceptable settlement agreement. At the very least, many personal injury cases require several rounds of tough negotiations before arriving at a satisfactory settlement.
Many complex factors determine how long it takes to reach a settlement agreement, including whether the at-fault party is disputing fault for the accident, the venue where the case is pending, the complexity of the case, the injuries involved, the medical treatment received, the permanency of the injuries suffered, and the need for further medical procedures.
While there is no such thing as a “perfect” settlement that fully restores an injured victim to their previous physical, emotional, and financial state, a “good” settlement is one that satisfactorily compensates the accident victim for his or her injuries. While this may be slightly less than the damages sought in a lawsuit, accepting a settlement eliminates the risk and uncertainty of going to trial and letting independent jurors decide the final outcome of the case.
In many instances a skilled personal injury lawyer can successfully negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company on your behalf and obtain a favorable settlement well before the trial date. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can discuss all of your legal options with you and work toward obtaining a fair and favorable settlement offer in your case.
Beginning Settlement Negotiations
The first step to beginning the settlement negotiation process is to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This puts the adverse insurance company on notice of a potential lawsuit. Prior to beginning settlement negotiations, the injured accident victim should finish all medical treatment and physical therapy – unless treatment will continue for months or years.
Once the accident victim has completed treatment, the accident victim’s attorney may prepare a demand package to the insurance company’s adjuster. The package includes a demand letter with an initial settlement demand, along with copies of the supporting medical records and bills. The demand package may also contain a victim impact statement, which explains the impact the accident and injuries have had on the victim’s life.
After the insurance company adjuster receives and reviews the settlement demand package, the adjuster may place an initial settlement offer on the table in an effort to try and dispose of the personal injury case quickly and cheaply. Insurance adjusters’ initial settlement offers are usually much less than what the case is actually worth.
Further settlement negotiations may ensue for weeks or months, with the injured accident victim’s lawyer working to get the insurance adjuster to incrementally increase the amount of the settlement offer. If the parties reach an agreement, the case will settle. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the injured accident victim’s attorney may file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit to Provoke a Reaction from the Insurance Company
In some cases, your lawyer may adopt a hardline approach and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party before attempting to negotiate settlement. This is typically done for two reasons. First, filing a lawsuit with the court begins the litigation process and places the case on the court’s radar, so to speak. Second, filing a lawsuit may encourage the adjuster to take the case more seriously.
In some instances, the insurance company may increase their settlement offer soon after the lawsuit is filed. In other instances, it may take several more rounds of negotiations—or completion of some initial discovery—before the adjuster places a better settlement offer on the table. In any case, filing a lawsuit is often an essential step in both the litigation and negotiation process.
It is important to keep in mind that filing a lawsuit does not guarantee that a personal injury case will go to trial. A personal injury case can settle right up to trial, or even during trial. However, once the trial is complete and the judge or jury enters a decision, the accident victim has to live with the result or consider filing an appeal. In some instances, a personal injury accident victim may prefer to accept a settlement because it puts the accident victim, instead of a judge or jury, in control of the outcome, and allows the victim to move forward with recovery.
Accepting or Rejecting a Pending Settlement Offer
The decision whether to accept or reject a pending settlement offer ultimately rests with the injured accident victim. A Chicago personal injury lawyer can help you decide whether a pending settlement offer is worth accepting.
When deciding whether to accept or reject a settlement offer, you should consider the following factors:
- The venue where the personal injury case is pending and whether or not it is a “plaintiff friendly” venue
- The amount of risk you are willing to take on the trial outcome
- Whether the settlement offer can be taken off the table by the adjuster
- The availability of alternative dispute resolution measures in your case, such as arbitration or mediation
- The cost of your medical bills and any costs—such as medical liens—that must be paid out of your settlement proceeds
- The increased costs associated with a jury trial
Call a Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Legal Options
When it comes to personal injury settlements, accident victims should carefully review the options available with experienced legal counsel. If you have sustained injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can review your case with you and evaluate your options. Our team of attorneys can represent your interests during settlement negotiations with insurance companies and their adjusters. If taking your case to trial is necessary, our attorneys provide capable and results-oriented legal representation in the courtroom.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyer, please call us today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.