Suppose you were in a car wreck and you’ve filed a claim for damages, or you’ve retained an attorney to file a lawsuit on your behalf, and you receive a settlement offer. You may have a few questions about what a settlement involves. We hope the following FAQs and answers will help you make an informed decision.
1. What is a settlement of a lawsuit or claim?
2. Are settlements rare, or are they “the norm”?
3. Where do the settlement funds come from?
4. How much money will I get if I settle?
5. Why do some cases go to trial rather than settling?
6. What if the company never makes an offer to settle?
7. How will I know whether to accept a settlement offer?
8. How quickly can I get a settlement?
9. Will I get a lump sum of money?
- What is a settlement of a lawsuit or claim? Personal injury lawyers, like those at McNeely Stephenson, help victims of accidents receive compensation by filing a claim against the negligent parties. While we are prepared to take every claim to court, and have done so many, many times, we also attempt to negotiate a settlement, or payment, which will prevent your having to incur the expense and time of a trial and to receive monies earlier.
- Are settlements rare, or are they “the norm”? In general, about 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled before trial. That may or may not be advisable, or possible, in your case.
- Where do the settlement funds come from? In the case of a motor vehicle accident, they would come from the insurance company for the negligent party. Sometimes there are two or more companies involved – say, for the driver and for his employer – and the settlement may be negotiated between them. This is the type of situation in which an experienced attorney’s skillfulness over the conference table can be just as important as his persuasiveness in the courtroom.
- How much money will I get if I settle? This is a question we often hear from clients at the beginning of the claim process. There are so many factors involved, and each case is different, so we can’t accurately predict what the insurer may offer or what the ultimate financial outcome will be. You can, however, read about some of the settlements we have negotiated for other clients.
- Why do some cases go to trial rather than settling? For one thing, the insurance company may make an offer or a series of offers that simply do not provide what the injured party believes is fair and just compensation for what he or she has been through, so they rely on a jury to determine the amount they will receive. Sometimes victims prefer to take the matter to trial in order to publicize an issue they feel strongly about, perhaps to expose the wrongdoing of a negligent company in order to protect other potential victims.
- What if the company never makes an offer to settle? Under Indiana law, not attempting in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear can be evidence of bad faith, as can attempting to settle a claim for less than the amount to which a reasonable person would have believed he was entitled or attempting to substantially diminish a claim and compelling the insured to initiate litigation. You can read more about insurance bad faith on our website.
- How will I know whether to accept a settlement offer? This is where having an experienced personal injury lawyer to advise you can relieve some of the anxiety and confusion. At McNeely Stephenson, we’ve been successfully litigating personal injury cases in Indiana since 1981. We’ve done a lot of settlement negotiations in our time, and we know how to gauge the reasonableness of a settlement offer. We’ll give you seasoned advice and help you make that decision.
- How quickly can I get a settlement? Usually, there are offers and counter-offers . . . often several of them. So a settlement can take a few months. It’s actually in your best interest not to settle too quickly, because the full extent of your injuries may not be immediately apparent. When you accept a settlement offer, you give up the right to file a future lawsuit against the company, even if you later find that your expenses have increased or continued.
- Will I get a lump sum of money? That is true in some cases; in others, there will be a series of structured payments made over a period of time. The particulars of your situation will determine which approach is most advisable for you.
If you have been injured through the negligent actions of another – a drunk driver, an inept physician, a careless property owner – the Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at McNeely Stephenson will diligently work to obtain just compensation for your injuries, whether through skillful negotiations toward a settlement or by persuasively presenting your case to a jury. Call us at 855-206-2555 for a free consultation.