Is It Better to Settle Your Car Accident Case Outside of Court?

Many lawsuits for car accidents settle well before they reach court, and most claims are resolved before a lawsuit is actually filed. Many people are unaware of settlement as an option and believe a lengthy court battle is the only option for their accident claim. Learn more about the process of settlement and how it may benefit you more than a court case.

Advantages of Settlement

A settlement will save you from the stress and expense of going to court with your case. Settlements are usually far less expensive to resolve, and can still offer as much compensation as a lawsuit. A settlement has a number of advantages over a lawsuit, such as:

  • A faster resolution
  • Avoiding expensive legal fees
  • Saving yourself the hassle of multiple court appearances
  • Avoiding an unpredictable jury decision

Medical bills for your hospitalization or rehabilitation are going to wind up in your mailbox, whether you are seeking compensation from a third party or not. The longer the case drags out, the longer you need to pay those bills with whatever you have in your savings accounts.

You may decide that a even a lower settlement is worth avoiding the hassle and expense of court. You can also choose to accept the settlement to avoid the risk of losing your case and recovering nothing in damages - settling your claim is like a “guaranteed victory” for you.

How to Begin a Settlement

A settlement is a negotiation, and it begins with a carefully drafted demand letter. Your attorney will devote many hours to preparing and gathering evidence to write your demand letter. In this document, you will lay out the expenses you have incurred as a result of your accident, including a detailed list of each expense in chronological order. To write this letter, it is likely you will need to gather medical records and records from your employer as proof of your losses. You also will lay out the events surrounding the injury, including any witness testimony, what happened, and any details you can include to better describe the accident. This letter is your presentation of your case to the insurance company, so it is best to get help from your lawyer and be meticulous when you prepare your demand letter. It is your best chance to convince the insurance company to settle with you in a satisfactory manner before a lawsuit.

When your letter is complete, you will send it and any pertinent medical records to the other party, their lawyer, or their insurance company. After the other party and their insurance company review your demands, all parties involved will enter settlement talks.

When Would Settling Not Work?

Most personal injury attorneys gravitate towards settling a claim because it usually works. But an experienced injury lawyer will know when settling is not right for their clients. If the settlement amount offered is too low, perhaps mockingly so, it should not be taken, not without intense deliberation.

Litigation represents a legal contest between two parties who could not compromise. The stakes are higher because a loss means you will get nothing. However, a victory could mean you will get much more than the settlement amount you will first pursuing. Due to the risk of paying more through litigation, some defendants or insurance companies will suddenly want to talk about a settlement the moment litigation is threatened. This is a precarious area of personal injury law, though, and should be left in the hands of your attorney.

Going to Court

If your attempts to reach a settlement have been unsuccessful, you may have to go to court. If there has been no response to your demand letter, or you cannot reach an adequate settlement for your expenses, you may have no choice but to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will begin the process by drafting and filing a formal complaint, with the appropriate court. It will also be served to the other driver by law enforcement or a process server. They will have a certain amount of time to answer the complaint, which is typically 20 days.

Following the filing, your case will enter the discovery process. During this time, you can request information from the other party, and they can ask for information from you as well. Information can be obtained through written requests, called interrogatories, or through deposition. A deposition can be used to compel testimony at a certain time and place. It may be recorded and used in court.

After the discovery period is complete, and both sides have prepared, the trial will commence. A judge or jury will hear the evidence and arguments of each side, and decide the outcome of the case. This is a time consuming and expensive process, and can carry the risk of losing your case. If at all possible, it is advisable to avoid litigation. You are able to settle at any time before the verdict. Filing a lawsuit does not waive your ability to settle.

There can be benefits and drawbacks of each situation. If you need help deciding which option is better for your claim, consult an experienced auto accident lawyer. They can help you prepare your claim, and if necessary take steps to file a lawsuit. Legal representation is important to ensure you receive the best possible settlement. Take the time to thoroughly explore your options, gather the necessary evidence for your claim, and plan with your attorney what you will do.

Are you preparing to demand a settlement for your injuries? Our NYC car accident lawyers can assist you in preparing your demands letter and we are ready to represent you in court if needed. Our team of seasoned attorneys has recovered millions of dollars for our deserving clients, and we can help you receive the compensation you need. Contact Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP today for a free case evaluation.

Categories: Personal Injury, FAQ