Factors to Consider in Personal Injury Settlements
There are many factors that determine the settlement value of a claim. These include the nature of the injury, the severity of the impact of the collision, and any lasting effects. Is the injured person going to need future treatment? Have they been permanently scarred or disfigured? Did they miss a lot of time from work? There are multiple factors that determine the settlement value of a claim and whether or not a settlement should be accepted.
Role of Fault in Settlements
In Raleigh, if the injured person has any fault, it is potentially fatal to their claim. In North Carolina, the injured person’s fault would destroy the settlement value of their claim because North Carolina has a law called contributory negligence. In effect this means that if the injured person contributed fault to the incident leading to their injuries, they would not be able to recover at all from the other party.
In Raleigh, a person settling a claim should not admit to fault, because North Carolina is a contributory negligence jurisdiction and that would destroy any settlement value of the claim.
Options to Consider
One thing that should be considered when deciding whether to settle or take a case to trial is whether a jury trial is likely to have a better result than the settlement offer. There are a lot of factors to consider, many of them just pure business decisions, because there are a lot of costs involved with getting a case to trial.
Even if a jury might award more money, it is going to cost the injured person a good amount of money to get their case to trial, and that has to be factored in as well.
Length of Settlement Process
How long a settlement should take depends on multiple factors, including how much medical treatment a person needs. Someone who needs to follow up with an orthopedic doctor for six months would be capable of receiving a settlement from their case much more quickly than someone who needs two years’ worth of treatment from an orthopedic doctor.
One of the issues that will determine the length of time of a settlement negotiation is the thoroughness of the information that has been provided. Sometimes, pre-existing medical conditions might affect settlement negotiation length. The tying up of loose ends can affect settlement negotiations.
Those are things that can be controlled. The various claims practices of the insurance companies that are being dealt with are out of the attorney’s control, but certainly can affect the length of time a settlement negotiation may take.
The need for additional treatment, the unavailability of records, and things of that nature may all prolong the process as well.
Shortening the Process
The injured party can be an active participant in their case. They should keep their lawyer up to date on their medical treatments, which doctors they are seeing, when, and for which conditions. At the same time, when they are done with treatment they should not just assume that the lawyer’s office knows or that their doctor’s office is communicating with their lawyer. Generally speaking, that is not the case. Being an active participant in the case and communicating that information with their lawyer is very helpful.
Benefits of a Lawyer
By looking at settlement history reports within various jurisdictions and in cases similar to the one at hand, a lawyer can advise the client that a case of the given type has a potential settlement value of a certain dollar amount, and explain how the client’s claim fits into the bigger picture. Their claim may be more or less favorable than the examples in terms of evidence. In other words, the strength or weakness of the evidence to support the claim and make a decision about their potential settlement value may be better or worse than other claims of this type.
How a Lawyer Can Expedite the Settlement Process
A lawyer can gather the evidence, such as the medical records, medical bills, and all of the relevant information to the claim, and get it to the claims adjusters as quickly as possible. This allows them to fully evaluate the claim, which is what they will need to do before the insurance company will enter into a settlement negotiation.