Mesa AZ | Settlements and Settlement Options in a Personal Injury Case
Q: I was injured a few months ago and I have decided to sue the person who injured me. I am trying to learn as much as I can about the legal process before I hire an attorney. Can you tell me about settlements? Specifically, what is a settlement? Is a settlement an option in every case? Finally, is a settlement going to be desirable in every case?
A: Once a personal injury claim is filed, it will be resolved in one of two ways: either by settlement, or by trial. A trial will happen in the very formal setting of a courtroom. You (the plaintiff) will be there with your attorney. The person who injured you (the defendant) will be there with his attorney. There will be a judge to preside over the trial, and a jury to decide the case. There will be numerous witnesses who testify for each respective side (you and the defendant will likely testify as well), and numerous items of evidence admitted to the court. Attorneys will make arguments, and then the jury will deliberate and return with a verdict. The verdict will include a determination of whether the defendant was at fault for your injuries, and, if so, an award of damages to compensate you for your injuries. The actual trial could take hours, days, weeks, or even longer depending on the complexity of your case.
A settlement is essentially an agreement between the parties to resolve a case in a certain way before the trial occurs. Your attorney will negotiate the terms of the settlement with the defendant’s attorney (or possibly the defendant’s insurance), and, if an agreement can be reached, it will be presented to you for approval. If you and the defendant both approve, the case will be resolved and the settlement’s terms will be enforced without a trial. The settlement will typically include mutually agreed-upon monetary amount owed from the defendant to you to compensate you for your injuries.
A settlement is indeed an option in every personal injury case. However, that does not mean it is an option that will always be pursued. Sometimes the two parties refuse to negotiate at all, or refuse to settle on a realistic compromise. An attorney can only enter into settlement negotiations with the consent of the client, and sometimes the client only wants a trial. It is always a good idea before hiring a personal injury attorney to educate yourself on his/her success with cases that have settled and those that have ended in a trial. There are some firms, like this one https://www.kaplunmarx.com/about-us/client-reviews/ that actually put most of that information on their website. You will also want to get client reviews for the firm. Every firm will probably have one or two clients who may not feel they were treated fairly and blame the attorney for the outcome but if you come across more negative reviews than positive one’s, it is a clear sign to move on to the next firm.
So, the question remains: should you seek to settle your case? A settlement is not the best choice in every case, but it is a good option to pursue in most cases. The particular reasons why you should seek or avoid a settlement will depend on your specific case. Lawyers.com has a good article on their website about the benefits of settling a case. You can read it here, and decide it those benefits apply to your specific circumstances.
Finally, it would be to your benefit to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate your case, decide whether the pursuit of a settlement is a good idea, and then help you get the terms and resolution that you want.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding Settlement Basics, or other personal injury matters, call 480.461.5300. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.