Not too many people like the idea of being involved in a long, drawn out, courtroom struggle. After an injury, the very last thing you want to do is spend months or even years fighting for compensation. Surely, you would rather get what you are entitled to and go on with your life.
You have probably seen the commercials on TV that are endlessly advertising that attorneys will settle your claim and keep you out of court. But is that the best solution for everyone? At the Law Offices of Aaron Law Group, we recognize that the best way to get a fair settlement for our clients is to prepare for a trial. As members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, insurance companies recognize our willingness and devotion to getting the best possible outcome for every client we represent. For this reason, they work to make us go away as quickly as possible.
What Exactly Does It Mean To Settle?
Before deciding whether you want to settle a personal injury case or go to trial, it is crucial to understand exactly what it means to settle. A settlement can be reached rather quickly–in some cases, a settlement is offered as soon as you put the defendant on notice. They can also be drawn out until after a jury has rendered its verdict. Fortunately, most cases settle somewhere in between these two extremes.
Once a lawsuit has been filed, the defendant typically responds by hiring an attorney to fight on their behalf. The respondent’s attorney will respond to the complaint that they receive. At this point, both sides will gather evidence, testimony, and other important information necessary to begin preparing their side of the case.
Rather than having to go through an extensive court battle, settlements are offered as a way to save time and money. Courts often encourage settlements in cases because it clears up their dockets.
In simple terms, a settlement is an exchange of money that is given to a claimant so they drop their lawsuit against the defendant. Settlement negotiations can involve a neutral third-party mediator who works to ensure both sides are able to find common grounds during settlement negotiations.
Pros And Cons Of Settlements
There are several reasons why settling personal injury cases in Nevada before they go to trial can be beneficial to both parties. Some of these reasons are:
Predictability: Individuals who go to trial are unable to predict how a jury will respond to evidence and testimony. When a party decides to settle, they know it is possible to come up with an amount for financial compensation that will benefit them rather than leaving it up to other people to decide.
Privacy: Quite often, individuals want to keep details of cases private. They do not want evidence leaked out to the public or any photographs or videos of their injuries and how it is impacting their lives. When a case is settled, the majority of details are kept out of court documents. This means that no one is able to get a hold of your personal information.
Settling provides control and certainty: There is always a risk for everyone when going to trial. The judge and jury may rule in the defendant’s favor and have a negative impact on the claimant. Defendants also have fears about having to go to trial because it can end up costing them a lot more money in the long run.
Settling before trial is much faster: Court procedures can take months or even years from start to finish. There is the process of filing the motions, collecting discovery, requesting a jury and selecting them. A settlement can speed up the process and help struggling plaintiffs get their money much quicker. This is especially helpful when claimants are forced out of work and left dry financially.
Settling before trial is less expensive: Most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency basis. What this means is that cases require no payment upfront. Instead, the claimant is required to pay all attorney fees and costs associated with the case. Trials are far more expensive than settlement negotiations. In turn, this means plaintiffs will have to pay fewer fees in the end.
Settlements ensure the process is less stressful: Trials can be extremely stressful for claimants. Forcing claimants to look at photographs of their loved ones or videos of them being harmed or killed can have a significant mental toll on an injured party. Cross-examinations can be overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety. When parties decide to settle, they are not forced to deal with these emotionally taxing circumstances.
Although there are numerous ways settling can help a plaintiff, there are also many ways it can harm them. Some reasons to reject a settlement and go to trial are:
The settlement amount is simply not enough. Responsible parties do not like to hand over any more money than they have to. For this reason, they often make extremely low settlement offers compared to what the plaintiff feels they deserve based on their evidence.
The defendant acted extremely negligent. Quite often, settlement agreements are contingent upon confidentiality. For this reason, the general public is shielded from seeing what negligent actions lead to the injury or death. Plaintiffs often choose to go to trial so they can expose the company or individuals actions so the public is aware. Plaintiffs can utilize the court setting to encourage more careful behavior in the community.
Sometimes, defendants are dishonest. Their bad faith and dishonesty during settlement negotiations can make the offer extremely unattractive to the claimant.
Finally, plaintiffs are able to request attorney’s fees in court. Court and attorney’s fees are not generally considered in settlement agreements, so going to court for these can have a big impact on a plaintiff’s financial burden from winning.
Some Common Questions About Settlements
Claimants who are unsure about the settlement process often ask imperative questions in order to find out more information. Some of the most common questions asked are:
Are medical bills included in my claim?
Medical bills are often included in bodily injury claims. The compensation received for bodily injury claims covers medical bills, but can also include lost wages and other out-of-pocket losses that result from the incident or injury.
Can I ask my lawyer for a copy of my settlement check?
Yes, and it is highly recommended that you do. As a client, you have every right to see settlement checks and review any settlement agreement personally. You can review the “breakdown” sheet to see how everything is calculated before you deposit the check.
Can I access my child’s settlement money?
Children who have won settlements are entitled to their own level of security regarding their money. Parents are generally unable to access the money as it is possible, in some cases, that parents would take the money and spend it on themselves. For this reason, child settlement money is often locked into a trust account until they reach the age of 18-years-old. When a child turns 18 and is able to access their money, the court is generally satisfied that the funds will be used on the child’s behalf and no one else’s.
Can my lawyer come to a settlement agreement without my knowledge or consent?
Although unlikely, this can happen in certain cases. You will need to review the retainer agreement you signed with your lawyer. You can specify on this agreement, by consenting, that it is acceptable for your attorney to accept a settlement agreement without your knowledge. This typically does not happen. Generally, attorneys meet with clients prior to conferences if they are unable to attend personally. The attorney and client will establish an ideal minimum amount that they would consider.
How do I collect my award money?
If the responsible party has insurance, your attorney will notify the insurance company of the judgment. Most likely, they are already aware of it. Once they are notified, they will write a check for the damages up to the limit specified in the responsible party’s insurance policy.
If a person is uninsured, it is generally more difficult to collect damages. You will need to have the judgment entered into the court system so you can seek enforcement measures. Once entered, your attorney will help you discover the defendant’s property and place liens on their homes, automobiles, or bank accounts. This process is not instant and can sometimes take months or years.
Prepare Yourself Mentally For The Claims Process
The process of filing a personal injury claim is not quick. It often takes several years before you receive any form of compensation or before a trial even begins in your case. It is crucial that you prepare yourself mentally for the ups and downs of civil litigation.
The more you are aware of early on, the easier it will be for you to prepare mentally for the entire process. The majority of personal injury cases do not make it to trial in Nevada. This is generally the case because a large number of claims are able to be settled before a trial would begin.
Quite often, settling before your case makes it to trial can be a better option. Plaintiffs generally prefer to settle because it means they receive their compensation much quicker. If this is something that both parties agree on, they can schedule a settlement conference in order to come to a mutual agreement.
Make Sure You Have Everything You Need For Your Case
It is imperative that you have all of the documents related to your case. This is the key to winning the most compensation for your particular circumstance. Some of the most pertinent documents include reports from police officers or medical professionals, paperwork, and evidence. Witness statements from individuals that observed the incident or dangerous conditions, as well as expert witness statements, should all be collected and kept in a secure location. The more documents that you have to support your claim, the more likely you are to achieve the most compensation possible.
Start preparing your collection of documents as soon as the accident occurs. This could include taking photographs of damage or injuries, taking the names and contact information for witnesses and the responsible party, or even collecting insurance information for drivers or property owners.
The initial reports made by police officers and insurance companies will be used as evidence. You need to make sure you do not say anything that could be damaging to your case at the scene of the accident or on social media. Never apologize for an accident and do not claim to be responsible for anything that happened.
Make sure a medical examination is performed after the incident occurs. You will need to have all of the medical documentation for your examinations, injuries, and treatment recommendations from doctors and specialists you have seen. These documents will help you prove that you sustained serious injuries and that you need to be compensated for bodily harm.
These documents will also be necessary to prove medical bills, therapy and surgical schedules and costs, and other important information. Quite often, medical doctors will determine how long you will need to be off work.
Keep all reports related to property or vehicle damage on hand. These will detail your property loss totals and specify how much money is needed to make repairs or replacements.
The more documents and information you have up front to support your claim, the more likely you are to receive a fair and full settlement offer. Having an experienced attorney from the Law Offices of Aaron Law Group working on your team will ensure you are taken seriously by the responsible party’s insurance company and lawyers.
Hire Us To Fight For You
The Aaron Law Group has more than 26 years of experience handling complex and complicated personal injury claims. We have worked with residents throughout the state of Nevada to ensure that their rights were protected and that they received adequate and fair compensation for their injuries and losses. With Aaron Law Group on your side, you have a far greater chance of reaching a personal injury settlement that fully compensates you for your medical costs, lost earnings, pain, suffering and other damages you may have incurred as a result of your accident. Call us today to speak with a qualified and skilled Las Vegas personal injury attorney at 702-550-1111.