How to Know Whether a Settlement Offer is Fair
While it may come as a surprise to people who are unfamiliar with personal injury law, the vast majority of cases that arise from car crashes and other preventable accidents are resolved long before either party sees the inside of a courtroom. In fact, in many instances, these kinds of cases are settled before a lawsuit is even filed.
Of course, there are opposing interests at work in any car accident case; the insurance company of the at-fault party wants to settle for as little as possible and the victim seeks the maximum amount of compensation. By settling out of court, both parties can reduce their risk, as juries are known for making surprising decisions that often leave both plaintiffs and defendants shocked.
All parties can avoid uncertainty by coming to a mutually agreeable settlement on their own terms, outside the courtroom. Thus, an overwhelming number of personal injury cases are resolved with a settlement rather than a jury verdict.
One reason many car accident cases are settled out of court is that one party often concedes liability. As a result, the only remaining issue to be decided is how much compensation the at-fault party will pay the victim. The kinds of losses that can be compensated for in a California car accident case include the following:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Property damage; and
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Importantly, California law allows victims to recover for future losses as well as losses they have already incurred. For this reason, car accident victims who will be unable to return to work or who will need lifelong medical care often recover compensation well into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Determining a Fair Settlement Offer Takes into Account a Number of Factors
Generally speaking, the parties to settlement negotiations in a personal injury case attempt to arrive at a figure that takes into the account the amount of money the plaintiff could receive through a court judgment. For this reason, it is important for victims to retain an attorney who is familiar with the way in which personal injury cases are resolved in the courts and can bring that knowledge to the negotiating table.
Some considerations that can affect the final settlement offer made by an insurance company may include the following:
- Strength or weakness of the victim’s claims of negligence by the other party;
- The existence of any contributory negligence on the part of the victim that partially caused the accident;
- Whether the jurisdiction in which the case is pending tends to be plaintiff-friendly or defendant-friendly;
- The significance and anticipated duration of the victim’s injuries; and
- Any caps or limits on recovery under state law (e.g. no non-economic damages for uninsured motorists).
If you receive a settlement offer that seems low to you, it may be due to a legal factor that limits the settlement possibilities. In other situations, the negligent driver may simply not be cooperating in authorizing a reasonable settlement. An experienced attorney can help you review the details of your case, your losses, and California law to help advise you whether or not a particular settlement offer is fair.
It is critical to discuss any settlement offer with an attorney since, once you accept a settlement, you waive your right to come back and ask for more money in regard to that accident. For this reason and more, you should use patience and careful consideration when determining whether or not to accept a settlement offer.
Call GJEL Accident Attorneys Today to Discuss Your Case with an Experienced California Accident Attorney
The most effective step car accident victims can take to ensure they receive the largest settlement offer possible is to retain a skilled personal injury attorney to handle their case. The lawyers of GJEL Accident Attorneys have recovered more than $850 million on behalf of our clients and are dedicated to ensuring that each client we represent obtains the full value of their claim.
Do not hesitate to call our office today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced California car accident attorneys. Prospective clients can also reach our office by sending an email through our online contact form.