A settlement in a car accident case is an official agreement that compensation will be accepted as a method of resolving an existing legal dispute or conflict. There are several steps to obtaining a settlement offer and just as many considerations to be made in deciding whether or not to accept a settlement offer.
Receiving A Settlement Offer
In the United States, a majority of cases will be resolved through settlement as four to five percent of personal injury cases go to trial where 95 to 96 percent of cases are settled pretrial.1 In order to reach a settlement, the first step is for an injured party to issue a demand letter which includes a written statement of the facts and circumstances of the accident, an explanation of the medical treatment and damages, and establishes the ground for negotiations by making an initial request for compensation.2 At this point, a negotiation process begins that is identified by repeated offers and counteroffers.3 However, to end this negotiation process even if mediation occurs, requires a plaintiff to identify at what point the injured party should accept a settlement offer.
Accepting A Settlement Offer
The injured party should only consider accepting a settlement made during mediation or the back-and-forth negotiation process, when the defendant or insurer has made an offer that covers any medical or property expenses as well as provides reasonable compensation for the non-monetary losses.4 Accepting a settlement offer not only allows for recovery, but it simultaneously bars any other form of future recovery, which means that determining whether or not to accept a settlement offer should not be a decision made in haste, but should be done through a complete comparison and calculation of all losses.5 There are general tips on how to analyze a settlement including not accepting the initial negotiation offer as it is usually substantially lower than the damages sustained; the importance of conducting an investigation to evaluate your own claim’s worth and strength which includes lost future wages, lost earning capacity, and any permanent damages such as scarring or disability; need to review your own insurance policy, police reports, and medical records; including out of pocket expenses such as mileage to and from the doctor, getting car repair estimates, and buying prescriptions; and considering the role of liability in your claim including the presence of comparative negligence.6 Following these tips prior to receiving settlement offers, will allow you to have a reasonable expectation during negotiations and mediation, but will also give you an idea of when to accept or reject an offer.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have been involved in a car accident, settlement offers may arise during the course of a personal injury claim. It is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation please feel free to call The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.