Settlement vs Litigation: What is better for your case?
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, more than likely the insurance company for the person who caused the accident will try to reach a settlement in the matter to avoid litigation. Though sometimes litigation is necessary, such as when the insurance company’s offer is not at all fair, there are generally both positives and negatives to settling claims and litigation (taking your case to trial).
Settlement is when you try to get all the costs of your injuries and damage to your car covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your goal is full recovery for all damages – as well as full physical recovery from your injuries.
What is a “Fair Settlement”?
A fair settlement with the insurance company for the injury and/or damage to your vehicle would include coverage for your:
- medical bills (including treatment and equipment),
- vehicle damage,
- lost income from your time missed at work (and future wage loss, if applicable),
- future medical treatment, and in some cases
- pain and suffering and compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
Keep in mind that the settlement process is not a quick one, nor should it be. Injured persons should complete medical treatment before entering – or having their attorney enter – the settlement negotiation process. As surgery and intense rehabilitation are sometimes required to heal your PA accident injuries, this can be a long road, but it’s the only way your lawyer can know what your costs will be, and in turn, what to aim for in your settlement. Your doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis play an imporantant role in your injury claim settlement.
What is the First Step to Avoid Litigation?
The first step is to gather information at the scene where the accident happened. If you are injured, seek a doctor who has experience in the treatment of auto accident victims before you try to settle your claim with the insurance company. That way when you settle your claim, you have the best chance to be compensated for your medical bills. When you have healed you must send in a “demand package” to the insurance company of the driver that caused the accident. This package includes a letter explaining the details of the car accident, why the other person is responsible, all of the consequences of the accident (your injuries), and copies of all of your expenses (medical and all other out-of-pocket costs). The insurance company will then review the information and evaluate your claim. It is best to navigate this process with the guidance of a competent accident lawyer.
What if I Choose Litigation?
Another route you could take is litigation. Litigation is also called legal process. In this case, you bring your car accident claim to court. It involves the legal process from:
- Filing a Complaint with the Court,
- Service of the Complaint upon the Defendant,
- Awaiting the opposing side’s Answer to the Complaint,
- Entering and working through the several-months-long discovery phase,
- Depositions of each party,
- Filing of motions,
- Trying the case (or entering into arbitration or mediation),
- Wait on the decision from the jurors and/or judge.
Litigation is sometimes the best option, but you must understand how lengthy a process it is. It is also costly, more so than working out a settlement with the insurance company. In addition to the drawn out time frame, taking a case to court opens up your entire life to opposing counsel, the defendant, judge, and jury.
Why Settlement may be Better
In many instances, it is suspected that jurors will lean one way, but end up deciding your case in a completely unexpected way. As in life, there are no guarantees in court.
The jury could see you (the plaintiff) as non-credible, which is a very bad position to be in. Personal injury lawyers who have been in the business a while and deal with auto accident cases on a daily basis can comfortably determine the value of an injury case. Settlement avoids the riskiness of a jury decision.
If you have been involved in an auto accident and need a personal injury lawyer for your case contact Cordisco & Saile LLC. We will give you answers to all of your questions and the help you need in attaining a fair settlement in your car accident case. Call 215-642-2335. You may also read more information on auto accidents in our FREE Accident Guide Book.