Settlement Or Judgment: Getting Paid For Your Personal Injury
It's easy to see why certain issues concerning personal injury cases can be confusing. If you get in an accident that was someone else's fault, should you accept a settlement or take them to court? To get a simple explanation of what actions you need to take when you get hurt through no fault of your own, read on.
Your money damages
Regardless of whether you settle outside of court or you file suit, you are entitled to the same basic types of money damages. It should be noted that you won't get all of the money damages below by depending upon the insurance company alone, you must take legal action to have a chance at all of these.
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Vehicle repair (or replacement)
- Lost wages
First up, a settlement
While a settlement offer can come at any time from the time of the accident right up until the judge hands down the verdict, they often come before you even file suit. In fact, most personal injury cases never end up getting decided in court at all; they are settled outside of court. Once you are well enough, speak to a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer may contact the insurance company and send them a letter of demand detailing what you are asking in terms of money damages. This contact is just the beginning of negotiations.
The discovery process
You may need to file suit, and part of the pre-trial activities will be the discovery process. This is a series of legal actions that prompt both sides to trade information back and forth. This can be through interrogatories, where questions are asked and answered, and document requests, where evidence about the case is provided.
It also will include a deposition, where you and other interested parties are "deposed" or questioned under oath about the accident and your treatments. This phase presents an excellent opportunity for the other side to recognize the value of your case and send an offer your way. If not, you will proceed to trial.
You can still be offered a settlement once court begins and evidence that comes to light, the attitude of the judge, the skills of the expert witnesses and your attorney's expertise all can come into play to affect your chances of success. In the end, you will be awarded a monetary judgment if you have proven your case convincingly.
Speak to your personal injury attorney to find out more about your chances for a settlement and a judgment.