After a serious car accident, you file the proper insurance claims. You’re prepared to take the accident lawsuit all the way to trial. Then one day, the other driver’s insurance company makes you a settlement offer. Should you take it?
The question of whether to settle a car accident, trucking accident, or other personal injury case is one of the more difficult ones you will face. While every case and person is different, there are some helpful guidelines. Here are some things to consider if you’re wondering whether it’s a good idea to settle an Alabama car accident case.
A bit about Alabama personal injury settlements
Here’s a bit about the car accident settlement process.
When you file a personal injury claim after a car accident or trucking accident, you will be known as the plaintiff. The person who hurt you is called the defendant.
After filing, your case can take two paths. The first path will lead to a trial where a jury will decide the facts (“Was the light really green?) and determine how much money you should receive. The second path is a settlement.
A settlement is a legal agreement between the parties in a lawsuit. The settlement process begins when one party – usually the defendant – makes an offer to the plaintiff. The defendant will make an offer based on the plaintiff’s injuries as well as what they think a jury would do at trial. The process, called settlement negotiation, will continue until the parties reach an agreement or fail to reach an agreement.
If the parties reach a settlement, they will file paperwork with the court and the case will be dismissed. You will probably get a check for the settlement amount a few weeks or so after the paperwork is done. If there is no agreement, the case will go to trial.
How much is my Alabama car accident case worth?
Of course, before you accept a settlement, you should think about how much your case is worth. Many things affect the value of an Alabama personal injury case, but the biggest factor is usually the severity of your physical injuries. For example, plaintiffs with permanent injuries generally get higher settlements than those with temporary injuries.
The quality of the evidence is another factor. In general, plaintiffs who have good witnesses and detailed medical records receive better settlements than those who have few witnesses, unreliable witnesses, or missing medical records. (This is another reason why collecting as much information as possible after an accident is important.)
All said, there is no magic formula that can tell you how much your case is worth. However, an experienced Birmingham personal injury lawyer can help you come up with a number that makes sense for your case.
When is it a Good Idea to Settle an Alabama Car Accident Case?
If you are offered a settlement after an Alabama auto accident or trucking accident, you may wonder whether it’s a good idea to accept it. While a Birmingham car accident attorney is the best person to ask, here are some things to think about when you’re wondering if you should settle an Alabama car accident case.
To maximize your damages
During settlement negotiations, plaintiffs want to get the highest damages award possible while defendants want to pay as little as possible. For this reason, some plaintiffs feel like accepting a settlement is a “loss.” However, accepting a settlement can be a way to increase your damages.
First, personal injury lawyers get paid by taking a percentage of your recovery. Most Birmingham injury lawyers increase this percentage if the case goes to trial. (Preparing for trial takes lots of time.) So, even if you do get more money at trial – which is not a guarantee – a trial makes it likely that you will also have to pay more to your legal team. Settling earlier in the case will help you save money.
Second, sometimes, the settlement offer compares favorably to what a jury might do. In this situation, accepting the settlement makes sense.
To guarantee your recovery
In movies and television, the “good guys” always win. But in reality, even if you have a great case and an outstanding Birmingham car accident lawyer, the jury could still rule against you or severely limit your damages. Rather than taking a chance on what a jury might do, many plaintiffs and personal injury lawyers prefer to accept a guaranteed settlement.
To get your money quickly
In movies and t.v., things happen quickly. In real life, trials are often delayed because of scheduling conflicts, witness issues, and other factors. It could take years for your case to go to trial. Once the trial begins – especially if it involves serious injuries like those suffered in a trucking accident – the trial itself could take weeks or months. Then, if the defendant doesn’t like the decision, they have the right to appeal. Even the fastest appeals take about two years to complete.
As you can see, trials take lots of time. If you’ve already been waiting for compensation for years, a settlement could provide a way to speed things up a bit.
To protect your privacy
Trials happen in courtrooms. Courtrooms are public spaces. Every member of the public has a right to enter the courtroom and listen to the proceedings. The court filings are also open to the public. This means that anyone in your community can hear you talk about your mental and physical injuries or read details about your life.
On the other hand, a settlement will not require you to expose private details to the public. Although not advised, if you really want it, you can include a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement. These terms keep the parties from discussing the settlement agreement with others.
Settling your car accident claim could help you keep your private life private.
For peace of mind
Since your accident, you’ve been dealing with injuries, finances, and many other stressors. A trial is perhaps the most stressful legal event of all. Accepting a settlement can help you reclaim your life, reduce your stress, and get things back to normal.
Should I hire an Alabama personal injury attorney before accepting a car accident settlement?
Absolutely! While settlements can be highly beneficial, entering into one without an attorney would not be a good idea. An Alabama personal injury attorney can
- Assign an appropriate value to your case to make sure that any settlement provides adequate compensation;
- Give you essential legal advice;
- Handle insurance companies and other attorneys for you; and
- Find evidence that will help your case.
For these and so many other reasons, having a qualified Alabama personal injury lawyer on your side during settlement negotiations is one of the best decisions you can make.
Questions about when to settle an Alabama car accident case?
If you’ve received a settlement offer after being injured in a car accident, trucking accident, or other collision, you probably have many questions. When you have questions about wrongful death, settlements, or other personal injury issues, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our team works hard to make sure that we provide not only the quality legal advice you need but also the compassion and customer service you deserve. Call 205-588-1411 or click to schedule a free legal consultation.