It can be a confusing time if you were injured by the actions of someone else. Naturally you want compensation and most people receive this compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. If you are offered a settlement, however, it may leave you unsure of how to proceed. Will accepting the offer be better or worse than continuing the lawsuit? This guide will answer this question.
If you are like most people, you probably think of settling in a negative light. Movies and television often portray accepting a settlement offer as admitting defeat or letting the responsible person off the hook. This is a very unrealistic depiction of settling. In reality, the majority of court cases end in settlement. It is not admitting defeat, but rather coming to an agreement with the defendant. The defendant agrees that he or she is responsible for your injuries and will pay a certain amount for them.
Is Settling the Right Choice?
You have to decide for yourself if accepting the offer is the right choice, but your attorney can give you good advice. Always discuss an offer with your lawyer. The offer will likely be slightly lower than what you could receive if the court case proceeds to its natural conclusion. This is because both you and the defendant will be saving legal fees and time. Basically, you should compare the offer to what your attorney suspects you will receive from the court’s verdict, and decide if the difference between the two values is worth the time and money you will save by settling early. Also consider that the court is not guaranteed to rule in your favor, while a settlement is a guarantee.
When You Should not Settle
There are only two situations where you should never accept a settlement offer:
- You have not discussed it with an attorney
- You have not finished your medical treatment for the injury
Outside of these two situations, it is always worthwhile to at least consider the offer. If it does not seem terribly appealing, you can make a counter offer with your attorney’s help. Never accept a settlement offer before you finish the healing process. You simply will not know how much your medical bills will be, so you cannot know if the offer is fair or not.
You should never make any legal decisions before you have spoken with an attorney. That should be the very first thing you do once you decide you want to take legal action.