Personal Injury: When is the right time to settle?

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By Marcus Fernandez

Being in an accident can be overwhelming and it is understandable that you may want to settle your personal injury case quickly. Doctors visits balanced with home life, meetings with lawyers criss-crossed with soccer practice. When human emotion and injuries are mixed together, it can be difficult to assess when the settlement you’ve been offered is fair, and when is the right time to renegotiate.

Facts of Your Personal Injury Case

There are different factors that should be taken into account when determining when is the right time to settle. Most liability insurance carriers do not attempt to resolve personal injury cases without making a settlement contingent upon a full release of all claims. Therefore it’s important to reach a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI) before attempting a negotiated settlement. Having the basic answers to important questions before it’s time to attempt a settlement is key. Ask yourself:

  • What is the final diagnosis of my injury?
  • What has been the outcome of my medical care?
  • Have I suffered a permanent injury as a result of my accident?
  • Will I likely need future medical care or will I suffer ongoing lost wages?

The answers to these questions will directly affect how a case is evaluated in settlement negotiations. Settlement negotiations should not normally begin until the injured party can fully consider the long term effects of an injury.

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The Rules of Settling Your Personal Injury Case

Once you begin to negotiate it is important to weigh all factors. Most initial demands and offers leave both sides room to continue negotiations. After a few conversations the position of the insurance company generally becomes clearer and the injured party, with advice of counsel, can begin to consider a settlement versus filing a lawsuit.

There are basic rules of negotiating that are followed that may seem familiar; negotiate with confidence on your side, argue the strong points of your case but be aware of weaknesses and remember to give yourself room to compromise. Even when your case is seeking a settlement from an insurance company, understand that you are still asking for another person’s money. In the majority of cases insurance companies aren’t eager to give money away unless the evidence is there to fully support a demand for settlement.

Emotional Decisions

Emotions are real and should be recognized, but understand those not injured will not have the same feelings. Your lawyer cannot heal your injury, but they can help with economic losses and compensation for pain and suffering. This naturally requires objective and financially smart decision making.
A personal injury case cannot turn back the clock. Ultimately, the successful prosecution of a personal injury case will only result in a financial settlement. It does become a financial decision in many ways, with the goal of paying expenses and providing as much of a financial recovery for the injured person as the case supports. It is important to be realistic with your goals while pursuing the best recovery.