If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you could be eligible to seek fair compensation from the at-fault party. If you need to take legal action, you might be wondering if your case will settle, or if it will eventually go to trial.
Statistically, the majority of injury claims will never see the inside of a courtroom. Most cases settle out of court, but there are circumstances in which it is necessary to file a lawsuit and seek damages in court.
The important thing is to hire a lawyer who is prepared for every possible outcome. You’ll want to have an attorney on your side who is skilled at negotiating and reaching a fair settlement with the other party’s insurer, and who is prepared to take your case as far as it needs to go to see that justice is served.
How Often Do Injury Cases Go to Trial?
As mentioned above, a vast majority (according to some, it might be 97% or more) of personal injury cases settle before a lawsuit needs to be filed. Even if you file a lawsuit, a settlement could be reached at any point before a verdict is reached.
Every case is unique, so whether or not your case will go to trial will depend on the circumstances of your accident. If the other party refuses to offer you a fair settlement that accounts for all of your current and future losses, for example, your lawyer might suggest filing a lawsuit to seek damages in court. The other side might also dispute your account of the accident or might try to blame you for your injuries, which would likely require demonstrating their negligence at trial.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement is an agreed-upon amount of money an injury victim might be offered for their losses, such as medical bills, mental anguish, and lost wages. Your attorney will first try to reach a settlement agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If the insurance company denies your claim or provides a low offer, you could move forward with a lawsuit. However, your case could also settle before it goes to trial, or at any point before a jury reaches a verdict.
How a Settlement Is Negotiated
The process for a settlement negotiation depends on where you are in the case.
If you filed an insurance claim, you or your lawyer would likely negotiate directly with the at-fault party’s insurance company representatives. It requires submitting a demand letter along with collected evidence for the other side to review.
The letter should include the amount of compensation you’re seeking for the losses you suffered. After the adjuster investigates the claim, they will either deny it or respond with a counteroffer.
If a lawsuit has been filed, the other side could still present a settlement offer at any time. If you and your lawyer believe that what has been offered is fair and equitable, you could accept and stop the legal proceedings. Once a jury has rendered a verdict, however, it would not be possible for either side to attempt to negotiate for a settlement.
Who Might Have a Lien on My Personal Injury Settlement?
In the aftermath of an injury accident, you might find yourself struggling to pay for medical care and other expenses. While you wait for your injury case to resolve, you might need to agree to a consensual lien or sign a Letter of Protection with a medical provider or another entity. In general, interested parties who might have a lien on your injury settlement include:
- Healthcare providers – If you do not have insurance or adequate insurance to cover your medical bills, you might need to sign an agreement stating that you will pay the entity back with funds from your settlement or eventual injury award.
- Health insurance carriers – Some health insurance plans will place a medical lien on your settlement. The right to assert these liens will often be embedded in the plan established by your employer.
- Auto insurance carriers – If your car insurance policy includes medical payment coverage, your insurer might be entitled to seek reimbursement for payouts if the services you require exceed $5000.
- Medicaid- Applicants are required at signing to turn over their rights to medical care to the state. This means that the state could pursue a claim, even if you do not. The state will also be entitled to be paid back for any medical bills it has covered and will assert a lien on any settlement you secure.
What Happens When You Can’t Reach a Settlement Agreement?
If you’re unable to agree to a settlement amount you believe is fair, your attorney might recommend that you file a lawsuit and prepare for trial. An experienced trial lawyer will know how to build a convincing case and present evidence on your behalf. Many insurance companies and other entities will want to avoid going to trial. This is because the amount awarded could far surpass what they anticipate or would offer, so they will often continue to try to reach a settlement rather than allow the case to proceed all the way to a verdict.
Why it’s Important to Hire a Lawyer Who Is Ready to Take Your Case to Trial
Not all Virginia injury attorneys are prepared to take cases to trial. You’ll want to have a lawyer with experience winning both at the negotiating table and inside the courtroom. This way, you can trust that your lawyer isn’t looking for a quick settlement to resolve your case and is ready to see to it that you recover the full and fair compensation you’re owed.
How Steven D. Barnette Can Help
If you were severely injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of Steven D. Barnette, P.C.
Our team does more than just try and settle cases. We help injured individuals like you get the answers, justice, and fair compensation they need to move on with their lives after an injury accident. Don’t wait. Call one of our five conveniently-located Virginia offices, or reach out to us online for help.