How do car accident settlements work? An overview:
We've all seen courtroom dramas on TV and in the movies, and while we've tried our share of cases, it's no secret that most car accident cases "settle" before trial. We'll discuss why this is below and how this can actually be advantageous to you. Without knowing the facts of your case, we obviously cannot set out a formula for what your case should settle for, but we can give you an idea of why your case isn't definitely headed to a jury.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How do car accident settlements work?
- What are good reasons to settle a car accident case?
- Why wouldn't I want to take my car accident case to court?
What exactly is a settlement?
What is referred to as a settlement is in fact more appropriately called a "settlement agreement." In essence, it is a formal agreement between you and the defendant that you will drop your lawsuit in exchange for a certain amount of money. This typically happens after at least some litigation has gone on, allowing the parties to see the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases.
Does this mean you are going to lose money in your case? Not necessarily. Depending on the facts of your case, an experienced attorney can get you an award that you would be happy with and will compensate you for your injury. Because settlement agreements are built on the premise that both parties must agree to the settlement before it can take effect, you can decline the settlement agreement any time prior to signing it. As your attorneys, we cannot and would not force you to accept a settlement agreement that you are not satisfied with. Ultimately, you're the one who makes the decision to settle or take your case to trial.
Why should I settle if I have a good case? Shouldn't I go to trial?
A "good case" is a matter of perspective. In the end, whether you have a good case is up to a jury. No matter what the facts or legal issues in a case, a jury trial is always at its heart a gamble for both parties. There are no guarantees and many times it is better to take the safe road and know the outcome of your lawsuit rather than taking a risk in trusting a jury with the results of your case. Something can always go wrong and juries can be hard to predict. We've seen great cases "go up in smoke" in front of a jury, while we've also witnessed middling cases secure huge jury awards.
Why? Just some examples:
- Key witnesses change their stories: Let's say you and the other driver disagree about whether the light was green or red. A third party pedestrian witnessed the accident and told police that the light was green when you drove through it. At trial, under the glare of 12 jurors and a smart defense attorney, sometimes witnesses just want out and claim amnesia. Or, they decide that they're so upset that they even have to be there that they tell a lie and claim YOU were in the wrong.
- Rogue jurors ignore the facts: There are people who just don't like lawyers. They'll look patient and interested, but even when confronted with extremely compelling facts, they'll simply rule against you. We've seen this happen.
- The jury misunderstands the process: Even with good-faith efforts on both your attorney and the defendant's attorney, sometimes jurors get lost in the minutiae of how lawsuits work. We've seen cases where jurors tried to award victims money, but got confused with the jury charge or what boxes they were supposed to fill out.
Why would a defendant be willing to settle?
Fear of the uncertainty of a trial makes a defendant want to settle. In the case of insurance carriers who are defendants, they care only about their bottom line. If it is financially better for them to settle then to go to trial, then they will want to settle. That means your lawyer has to build the strongest case possible in order to intimidate them into settling. Only when you show an insurance carrier defendant that you have built a strong case and there is the possibility that they will lose at trial, will they then agree to sit down and negotiate a settlement. In order to build your strongest case possible, you need the help of Grossman Law Offices. Our attorneys will work to determine the best option for your case and, if settlement is the best option for your case, we will work to build the strong case possible and to force the defendant to offer you a complete and fair settlement agreement.
Don't try to settle on your own. Call us at (855) 326-0000 now for a free consultation.
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