After suffering an injury due to another’s negligence, clients often ask many important questions about how a personal injury case works. One of the biggest questions we get is how a settlement is different from going to a trial and receiving a verdict.
The attorneys at Anderson & Cummings explain some key elements involving settlements, as well as what to expect if your case ends up in court.
Trials are an inconvenient expense for everyone, and our experienced attorneys will make every effort to ensure your case does not end up in court. However, if necessary, we are also prepared to represent you in a trial and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.
Partner John Cummings is a certified trial lawyer in both personal injury and civil law.
How are Settlements Negotiated in Texas?
The purpose of a settlement is, of course, to reach a legally binding agreement between two parties. Getting to this point in a case involves a long process that includes several legal steps and motions that may be filed by either attorney involved in the lawsuit. This phase of your personal injury case, called the discovery process, does not happen overnight.
Both parties will need to finish investigating the accident, speaking with witnesses and gathering evidence and other documentation to support the case. Negotiations will not begin until this part of the case is completed and injured victims complete their medical care.
In preparation for negotiating your settlement, your attorney will assess and determine the full value of your losses. This includes all costs related to your medical care, including emergency care, surgeries, rehabilitation or physical therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Once your attorney has calculated the value of your claim, he or she will submit a demand letter to the insurer requesting a settlement for those damages. The amount requested in this initial letter is typically just a starting place for negotiations. Along with this letter, your attorney will include evidence and other documentation to support his or her request.
The insurance company is not likely to agree to the first number submitted by your attorney and will most often send a counteroffer in response.
These offers and counteroffers may go back and forth for months until both parties can reach an agreement. If the parties can reach a settlement, a binding agreement is then issued by the court.
What Happens if the Insurance Company Will Not Settle?
Most of the time, personal injury cases settle without the need to go to court. However, if the two parties are unable to come to an agreement, then your case may have to be presented in trial and a jury will determine the amount of your award.
If your case ends up in court, the judge will issue specific instructions to the jury to make sure they understand what burden of proof is required from both parties in the lawsuit. The jury will then get to listen to both sides of the case. When both sides rest, the jury will make the final decision that determines the amount of compensation that will be awarded.
It is possible that the jury will side with you, and you may receive more compensation than through the settlement process. However, there is no guaranteed outcome, and you could also end up with nothing. Having a knowledgeable trial attorney on your side may make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim.
It is important to mention that going to court adds up in both time and money and those costs may impact the amount of your final compensation. However, a trial costs the insurance company money as well, which is why they are more likely to settle out of court.
Our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers have more than 50 years of collective legal experience, and we are board-certified trial lawyers. While we will fight to keep your case out of court, we are prepared to to represent you in a trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
An Attorney in Texas May Benefit Your Ability to Settle
Having an attorney on your side typically results in a larger award than if you try to go it alone. It also increases your chances of settling out of court.
Negotiating a fair settlement involves having a thorough understanding of the law, the ability to accurately consider and calculate all the factors that may contribute to the value of your claim, and extensive negotiating skills.
Our reputable attorneys handle personal injury cases every day, and we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. Our free consultations carry no obligation and are a risk-free way for you to find out whether you may have a valid case. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs. You pay us nothing unless we first get compensation for you through a settlement or verdict.