Just about any time you’re in a legal dispute, the topic of settling outside of court will come up. While a settlement is often lower than you would receive if you won a case, it can save you the headache of needing to go to court. Settling also presents you with a number you know you will receive, where the court may or may not decide in your favor.
The struggle between whether or not to settle can always be challenging. In some situations, settling can greatly reduce the amount of compensation you could receive. Others may find that a settlement amount is just what they were looking for.
But how do you know whether or not settling is right for you? Here are a few things you should consider before you agree to a settlement for your personal injury claim.
What is a Settlement?
First, it is important to understand what a settlement actually is. While both a settlement and a judgment are both resolutions to the case, a settlement is presented by the defendant while a judgment is presented by the judge.
Many times, the attorney teams on both sides will attempt to come to a settlement before going to court. However, you may be offered a settlement for your personal injury claim before the case gets very far at all. Some injured individuals may be presented with a settlement amount before the lawsuit is even filed.
A settlement can be beneficial to both parties in the right situation. For the defendant, a settlement typically reduces the amount of money they need to pay. For the plaintiff, a settlement amount can save them time, stress, and additional cost of legal or court fees.
But a settlement isn’t always positive. There are some cases when you won’t want to take a settlement.
What are the Benefits of Settling?
There are many different benefits to accepting a settlement. Each of the benefits revolve around it being much easier than going to court.
For starters, accepting a settlement gives the plaintiff a level of control over the outcome. When you go to court, you can present a judgment amount you would like to receive, but you are not necessarily entitled to that amount. The judge will come up with his or her own conclusion on the amount of money you’re owed.
Negotiating a settlement before going to court will give you and your attorney the freedom to ask for specific amounts of compensation. If the settlement offer you’re presented with does not meet your standards, you can counter.
Accepting a settlement will also reduce your stress level. While filing a lawsuit and recovering from an injury can be incredibly stressful as is, a settlement will completely cut out the need to go to court. This can ensure you get your money faster and you will not need to argue your side of the story in front of a judge. Your settlement will save you from paying court fees, attorney fees, witness fees and other expenses that can be difficult to cover during this stressful time.
Lastly, a settlement is final once both parties agree. If the defendant does not agree with the judgment presented to you in curt, they are able to file an appeal. The appeals process will only make it even longer before you see any money. A settlement agreement cannot be appealed or overturned.
When Shouldn’t You Settle?
Settling can always be a positive thing if you’re being offered the right amount of money. Taking a settlement is not recommended if the responsible party is not agreeing to the terms of the settlement you’re after.
Taking a settlement may also be seen as allowing the responsible party off the hook. In a personal injury case, allowing the responsible party to walk away without needing to go to court may not teach them the lesson they need to be more responsible and careful with the safety of other individuals.
However, the choice whether or not to accept a settlement is ultimately up to you. If you’re presented with a settlement offer that you believe will cover all your expenses related to the injury, you are able to agree.
Working with a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the settlement negotiation process. If you’re unsure of whether or not you should accept a settlement offer that has been presented to you, always talk with a personal injury attorney first.