Car accident victims differ when it comes to how they want to handle their cases. Some prefer a quick settlement even if it means accepting a smaller amount of compensation. This type of strategy begins and ends with the insurance company.
Other victims place a higher priority on getting the best settlement possible. This preference will typically drive the process through, at the very least, a process of rigorous negotiations with the insurer—or, more likely, to a pretrial stage of a civil lawsuit, or even into a court trial.
Whichever strategy most suits your style and situation, be sure that when interviewing potential law firms, you ask them what they are willing to do at your request.
If you want money fast, and that’s your top priority, ask each law firm you interview if they are willing to accept a quick settlement, if that is what you decide you want to do at the time the offer is made. An attorney should always feel comfortable recommending that you stand your ground and hold out for more money, but you need to know that if you say you want to accept a settlement offer, the attorney will abide by your wishes.
If timing is less of an issue than the amount of compensation you receive, ask each law firm you interview if its lawyers are willing to take your case to trial. Believe it or not, some attorneys will not take a case to trial. Their business models work around a quick-settlement case. Look for those words in the firm’s advertising. If you see “quick settlement,” and you feel like you are going to want to go to trial, move on to the next option.
You will most likely be presented with options to settle as you move through the personal injury action process. At any stage, you decide how far you want to take the matter. Your lawyer will advise you, negotiate for you, and litigate for you, but the decision is ultimately yours. You are the boss.
Relatively soon after your car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will typically contact you in response to the demand letter your attorney sent outlining the accident, your damages, and what you want to be paid in compensation.
At this early stage, the insurer makes a “can’t hurt to try” low-ball settlement offer. Enough time usually passed from the date of your accident to make you anxious, and the insurer is gambling that you are antsy enough to jump at the first offer, no matter how low.
Maybe your bills have stacked up, and you need whatever you can get your hands on. If so, the quick settlement is where you might want to get off the personal injury train.
Insurance companies will make their settlement offer only after you have reached maximum medical improvement (the point at which your condition cannot be further improved or when your healing process has reached a plateau). This gives the carrier a good idea of future medical expenses, as well as which conditions will not be improved through medical treatment, and the likely impact this will have on you, the victim.
Your attorney will submit all sorts of evidence, expert opinions, etc., to validate the compensation you are demanding. The insurer will review this material, then come back with a counter-offer. The negotiations have officially begun, and you have the option to make it stop or continue, as you see fit.
To expedite the “best settlement” offer, some lawyers employ an aggressive negotiating tactic called “the walkaway.”
You and your attorney agree at which point to implement this tactic, which involves your lawyer declaring to the insurer that you are not willing to accept the amount being offered, you are thus walking away from the negotiations, and you plan to take the issue to trial.
Insurance companies do not want to spend the money on the trial. It disagrees with their business model. As such, the insurer will typically respond to this walkaway technique by significantly increasing their proposed settlement amount.
Even if insurance negotiations fail, and your lawyer ends up filing a lawsuit in civil court, know that most car accident cases are settled in the pre-trial process, usually during discovery, which is when the defendant becomes aware of the depth and breadth of your case.
If your case enters into the trial process, there’s still a strong chance that your case will be settled by lawyers in a mediation process. The parties agree on an amount for compensation, and the plaintiff drops the case. The agreement passes before a judge as a legally binding contract.
At Zanes Law, we know you are the boss. Whatever your priorities for settling your case or taking it to trial, we are behind you every step of the way.
We will do everything from A to Z to ensure that the amount you receive and the timeframe in which you receive it works with your needs in recovering financially from your car accident.
Call our law firm now for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation at 866-499-8989.