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An individual who has been injured has the option to do nothing following their injuries, or to attempt to negotiate their claim with the at-fault party or their insurance agent. When the parties cannot reach a mutually agreed upon compromise regarding the injury claim, the injured party’s third option is to file a lawsuit.

If you have been in an accident in the Durham area, our Durham personal injury lawyers are ready to assist you through every step of the process, and will work with you toward obtaining a beneficial settlement in hopes that you can leave your injury behind and get back to life as you knew it before.

Deciding Whether to Settle or Go to Trial

A person should consider settling their case when the amount of the settlement offer provides reasonable compensation for the harm caused. The settlement should be enough to pay the related medical bills and provide some compensation for the other elements of damages such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and things of that nature.

With that said, an injured person should decline a settlement offer and take their case to trial when the settlement offer is not sufficient to adequately compensate them and a jury is more likely to return a more favorable verdict.

Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer in Determining Whether to Settle or Go to Trial

The role a lawyer plays in the decision-making process is to help the client understand the risks and costs associated with taking a case to trial versus accepting a settlement offer and having the case resolved. The role of the lawyer is to help the client with the decision-making process, and to guide them through the steps following their decision.

Accepting a Settlement Offer

When an individual is determining whether they should accept the settlement offer, they should listen to what their personal injury lawyer is telling them about the potential for obtaining a more favorable result through further settlement negotiations or at trial. It is critical for each person to consider their ability to go through the trial process, both in terms of the facts of their case, and regarding how ready they are to fight for it.

Determining Settlement Value

The settlement value of a claim is determined by several factors surrounding the severity of the incident causing the harm and the nature of the injuries. For example, the injury could be a soft tissue injury such as a neck sprain, or an orthopedic injury like a broken bone. Other factors that are considered are how much treatment is necessary to treat the injury, how long the injured person was in the hospital for, and any lasting effects of the injuries.

Role of an Attorney

A Durham personal injury lawyer can help a person determine their settlement value by explaining the different factors that determine the settlement value such as the nature of injury, the mechanism of harm, the duration of the injury, and the costs of treatment.

Fault of the Injured Party

In North Carolina, the injured person’s fault could potentially reduce the value of an injury claim down to nothing because North Carolina is a contributory negligence jurisdiction. Contributory negligence is when the negligence of the injured person collides with the other party’s negligence, meaning that if an injured person can be found at all at fault for their injuries, their claim loses its value. The claimant should not admit fault when determining their settlement value in a Durham personal injury case.

Time it Should Take to Receive a Settlement

There is no clear-cut answer. The length of time it takes to receive a settlement depends on the case, the injuries, and the treatment for the injuries. Before a settlement is received, the injured person should be finished with their medical treatment or know that they have recovered as much as they are going to recover and the doctors have articulated the lasting effects of the injury. An individual needs that information before they attempt to settle your case. Depending on the injury; that could be a short time or a really long time.

Issues that Determine the Length of Settlement Negotiation Time

The settlement practices of each adjuster within each insurance company are different, which is one factor that determines the length of a settlement negotiation. Another factor that may prolong the process is when the client needs to return for additional treatment, or when medical providers are not cooperative in furnishing medical records or bills, while the length of time to the statute of limitations could determine the length of a settlement negotiation.

Ensuring a Timely Settlement Process

A Durham personal injury lawyer can gather the medical records, the bills, and all of the information necessary to get the claim resolved. The lawyer gathers the information in a timely manner and submits it to the representative of the at-fault person to begin the negotiation process. Assuming that an individual is represented by a lawyer in a particular case, they should cooperate with their lawyer and keep them informed about their treatment and when it is completed so that records can be obtained and submitted in a timely manner.

Disadvantages of Going to Trial

Taking a case to trial has significant financial costs. You must secure the testimony of treating doctors who charge an hourly rate. There are costs associated with court reporters. Often, the testimony is secured outside of the courtroom, presented in the courtroom by a video tape or DVD, and there is a cost for that. Sometimes, parties need expert witnesses to explain technical aspects of the case. Those types of expert witnesses charge an hourly rate and it is not inexpensive.

At the same time, there are emotional costs associated with taking a case to trial. The time spent worrying about the outcome of the case and having to take the witness stand to explain detailed private information about your medical condition and other aspects of your life. That is not an enjoyable process for many people; it is very stressful, and a lawyer can work to help you avoid having to go to trial.

Information to Bring to the Initial Consultation with an Attorney

When a person goes to their initial consultation with an attorney, they should take all of the information they have available to them about the incident that occurred and the factors that caused the individual to sustain an injury. In addition, the client should bring their personal injury lawyer all information about their health insurance if they had any at the time of the injury, the medical providers from whom they sought treatment for the injuries, and information about people who can talk about what the injured person was like before and after the injury.