What Is a Settlement? Part 1
Most personal injury claims never reach trial. Instead, most claims are settled before trial, or even before filing suit. Settlement is a common negotiation process that ends in the injured person giving up the right to sue in exchange for the payment of a sum of money by the party who caused the injury, or defendant. Because it fosters compromise and the voluntary resolution of disputes, California public policy strongly favors settlement.When Can I Settle?
Sometimes, the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company will make the injured party a settlement offer right away. The parties, however, may settle at any point during the case, even after the court has heard the evidence. If the defendant makes a settlement offer at the outset, it may not be wise to accept that offer, and an attorney will be able to help you understand the strengths of your case and the fairness of the offer.How Much Can I Get?
The amount of the settlement depends upon the facts of the case. It may include damages to compensate the injured party for medical expenses, the cost to replace or repair damaged property, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
A settlement agreement involves negotiation between the parties, which means that both parties need to be informed about the merits of the case. Both sides will examine documentation and evidence relating to the amount of the injured person’s harm and the degree of the defendant’s fault. They may look at medical records, pay stubs, witness statements, and property repair bills to determine the value of financial losses, and examine evidence to figure out the value of the injured party’s pain, suffering, and other intangible losses. An attorney can help an injured person to decide whether going to trial will likely result in a larger recovery.
In order to settle, both sides must compromise and agree on a dollar value for the claim. The lawyer for the injured party will negotiate with the lawyer for the defendant or with the insurance company, and the parties will figure out an acceptable financial agreement. If they cannot come to an agreement on how much the entire case is worth, the parties may agree to a partial settlement. This means that they may settle some issues while continuing to litigate others.
If you are considering settling a personal injury claim or have received a settlement offer, it is important to consult an attorney. An experienced San Jose personal injury attorney will analyze the merits of your case and help you decide whether and for how much you should settle. Don’t hesitate to contact Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation if you have sustained an injury. We will examine your case and begin working immediately.