America’s vision of the legal process is largely based on the television courtroom drama – fictional portrayals where lawyers win big for their clients in attention-grabbing jury trials. To be sure, the civil justice system sometimes does work this way. However, most trials are much less exciting. And more importantly, most cases are settled without the need for a trial.
Is settling a bad thing? Not necessarily. Taking a case to trial could lead to a higher payout, but there are no guarantees. And because preparing for trial takes much more time and effort, the costs of the litigation process go way up. A negotiated settlement can mean a much faster resolution (and quicker payout) with lower attorney fees, less stress and a more certain outcome.
With all this in mind, it is important to understand that negotiating an injury settlement requires skill and knowledge – whether you are negotiating with the defendant, the defendant’s insurer or settling a claim with your own insurance provider. In all cases, being represented by an experienced personal injury attorney can be a huge advantage.
How an Attorney Can Strengthen Your Negotiations
First of all, the simple knowledge that you are being represented by an attorney will immediately get the other party to take you seriously (and will likely dissuade them from trying take advantage of you). It is almost worth hiring an attorney for this reason alone. But thankfully, there are many more benefits as well.
Here are just some of ways that an attorney will either improve your negotiating position or help you do the same. Your attorney will:
- Dissuade you from settling too quickly. Lowball offers are common from insurers and civil defense attorneys. You likely won’t get a fair offer immediately.
- Help you avoid making statements to insurers that could weaken your claim. Any statement that could be interpreted as admitting fault might be used to reject or reduce your claim.
- Help you document injuries and compile medical records. Showing the extent of your injuries might require working with additional medical specialists and getting the details documented in your records.
- Help you with the intricate financial calculations related to the accident. It is important to know how much money you need to cover past/present/future medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, property damage, etc.
- Help you quantify non-economic damages like pain and suffering. You deserve to be compensated for these types of damages, but they are not always easy to turn into a dollar figure.
- Be ready to take the case to trial if the negotiations are not fruitful. Having a lawyer gives the other side more incentive to reach a settlement. But if you cannot reach one, your attorney will already be familiar with your case and ready to litigate.
Contact an Attorney About Your Legal Options
Before you even file a claim with your own insurer, why not discuss your case with an attorney? A consultation is all it takes to learn if you have a strong case. Discuss your options with a personal injury attorney.