So, you just filed a lawsuit after being injured in an auto accident. The first question you probably want to ask is whether or not you have to go to trial. Unless the court throws your case out at summary judgment, the only way you can avoid trial is if your case settles. Settling an auto accident case before trial can be tough, but not impossible.
Predicting whether a case will settle
Clients typically ask whether their case will settle before trial. Predicting whether a case will settle is never easy, and not all cases can settle. The chance of successfully settling a case depends on so many different factors. However, there is always a possibility of settlement at any point during the litigation process. Some types of cases are more difficult to settle than others, so the legal issues involved have an impact on the possibility of settlement. Also, the time of the settlement and how you approach negotiations can have a significant impact, as well.
What does settlement actually mean?
Settlement occurs when the parties of a lawsuit come to a mutual agreement to resolve their legal disputes and dismiss their claims against each other. Usually, settlement occurs when the defendant, or the defendant’s insurance company, pays the plaintiff money in exchange for the plaintiff releasing the defendant from all liability for those particular injuries. Cases can be settled at practically any point during the litigation process. This includes even before actual litigation begins, with the filing of the lawsuit, or at the “courthouse steps,” as they say.
The chance for early settlement
In some cases, it may be possible to settle before you even file the lawsuit. Some types of personal injury claims, including auto accidents, are suited for early settlement. When the injuries involved can be resolved quickly, as opposed to injuries requiring ongoing treatment, early settlement is more likely. There are many advantages of settling an auto accident case early. The cost of filing and pursuing a lawsuit, which can be expensive, can be avoided when the case is settled before filing. This can be a huge advantage to both sides. Typically, the stronger your case seems, the more likely the defendant will see the benefit of settling.
Early settlement is not always a good idea
There are some situations where it may be in your best interest to wait until the case has been litigated before you begin to consider settling. The most important reason to delay settlement negotiations, is when your injuries have not yet been resolved. In other words, if you are still receiving medical treatment for your injuries, and it is expected that you will need further treatment, settlement might not be a good idea – at least not at that time. Furthermore, in more complicated cases, where the legal issues of liability and damages need to be sorted out through discovery, settlement is best delayed until more information can be gathered.
If you have questions regarding settlement of auto accident, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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