Personal Injury Settlement Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
Relatively few Kentucky personal injury cases are decided at trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases settle, which is true for just about all types of civil lawsuits. In most cases, it simply makes more sense for the parties to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement and resolve the personal injury case through an agreement.
Why should I settle my Kentucky personal injury case?
Whether or not a settlement will resolve a personal injury case depends on a number of issues. They can include:
- How much money is at stake
- The strength of the evidence which supports or weakens the claim
- The credibility of the witnesses
- Procedural issues which may make the case more difficult for one side or the other
- Whether a claim or a defense is based on an unsettled area of law, which can make the outcome more uncertain
- How far apart the parties are in settlement negotiations
- How reasonable the parties are in demanding and offering a proposed settlement.
It normally comes down to how strong the case is, how reasonable the settlement offer and how willing a plaintiff is to risk going to trial and lose and walk away with nothing or possibly win and be awarded a greater amount than a proposed settlement.
Why would an insurance company want to settle my Kentucky personal injury case?
Nearly all of the defendants in our cases have some kind of insurance that provides the defendant with a defense and could pay damages for an injury caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Whatever the situation the insurance company’s job in handling the claim is to try to minimize its costs and manage its risks. The insurer will try to resolve the issue at the lowest cost possible while balancing the need to reduce its risk of high defense costs and a much more expensive jury award if the plaintiff doesn’t agree to settle and the case goes to a trial.
An insurer may want to avoid a personal injury trial where the outcome will be decided by an unpredictable jury, one that may dismiss the case or find the facts more persuasive for the plaintiff and award him or her a substantial amount of money, possibly far more than what the insurance company is offering in settlement.
When do Kentucky personal injury cases settle?
A case can settle at any time, from before the filing of a lawsuit through an appeal after trial.
- After a client retains our services, we investigate the accident, talk it over with the client and make a demand to the insurance company representing the defendant(s) before we file a case in court. If a reasonable offer is made in response, we may be able to negotiate an early settlement.
- During litigation we go through the discovery process, where both sides exchange documents and information. Parties and witnesses are asked questions under oath during depositions. Cases frequently settle after discovery because both sides have a firm handle on the facts of the case, an idea of how effective witnesses may be during a trial and a better understanding of the evidence that could be shown to a jury. It’s a good time to fully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a case and have a better idea of what the case is worth.
- Just before trial starts, pressure builds because the expected cost of a trial in time, money and energy become more real, as does the fact that the plaintiff may not be successful and ultimately not be awarded any damages. The verdict may go against the defendant and a hefty damage award may need to be paid. As these realities become more apparent, the parties often become more reasonable, flexible and willing to compromise in order to avoid a potential “all or nothing” trial outcome.
- If the case is dismissed on a motion decided by the judge, or is decided either way by a jury, the losing party may be able to appeal the outcome. This can be a lengthy and expensive process, and both parties may feel it’s better to bring the case to an end with an agreement than to draw it out further through the appellate process.
We always prepare a case as if it’s going to trial, and trials do happen. Sometimes insurance companies are not reasonable, settlement offers are too low and our client may be better off risking the outcome at trial. Ultimately, it’s up to our client to decide whether or not to settle.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident of any type caused by someone else’s negligence, you need to know your rights and seek legal protection. You can bet the insurance company knows what to do to keep you from getting fair compensation. We can help. Call Julie Butcher, the Lexington, KY Accident Lawyer at 859-233-3641 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.