After a personal injury or accident, you may need extensive medical treatments and face significant monetary damages. Of course, you have the option of taking the at-fault party to court: filing a lawsuit and going to trial may result in a favorable verdict, allowing you to recover compensation.
In many cases, however, a fair and reasonable settlement can be negotiated. You may wonder: how do lawyers negotiate settlements, and what are some best practices to keep in mind while negotiating?
What Is a Settlement, and How Does the Process Work?
Put simply, a settlement agreement sets out the terms by which the parties agree to resolve a dispute. Typically, this happens after a claim – and often, a lawsuit – has been filed, resolving the issues outside of court and without the need to litigate the claims fully. The terms of a settlement agreement usually include the amount of monetary damages that the party at fault agrees to pay to the other, along with any other actions that each side will take, such as dismissing the claims that may be pending in court.
Settlement usually happens after negotiating, which can be extensive and involve several parties, including insurance companies. While negotiating, you may experience a good amount of back-and-forth, communicating about the facts of the accident, the damages incurred, and the extent of injuries that followed. You may be asked to provide various statements and documentation, including proof of medical treatments and expenses. You may also encounter the possibility of conflicting facts or accounts of what happened in the accident.
During settlement negotiations, one of the parties—or their insurer—will usually make an offer of settlement. If that offer is acceptable to the other party, then the parties can come to a settlement agreement and resolve their dispute without the need to go to court. If the offer is not fair and reasonable, and it isn’t accepted by the other party, then negotiations will resume, often with several counteroffers being presented until an agreement occurs. If an agreement is not possible, it may be necessary to take the claims to trial.
How Can You Prepare for Settlement Negotiations?
- Appraise and understand the full value of your damages. Whether it’s medical expenses, doctor’s visits, damage to your personal property, lost income, or the value of your pain and suffering, it is very important to accurately assess the full value of the damages you’ve incurred—without this, you won’t be able to request a fair and reasonable settlement for your case.
- Fully investigate the facts of the accident or personal injury. It’s important to have a clear account of what happened, which is backed up by witness statements and testimony, along with documentation such as police reports, correspondence, and photos that prove your claims in the case. It is essential that you know your case inside and out so that you can present your claims in the best possible light.
- Prepare a powerful argument for why you should prevail. A great argument for settlement entails showing the other party a great argument for why your claim is valid and, in fact, likely to win over a jury if a trial is necessary. Focus on crafting an argument based on the law, as well as the unique facts of your case.
- Anticipate the other party’s potential arguments and counterarguments. In addition to stating your argument, you will also need to understand what the other party’s claims and arguments against you might be, and you need to be able to respond to those arguments soundly.
Why Is It Advisable to Have an Attorney by Your Side During Settlement Negotiations?
A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney can give you sound legal advice and explain your options. They will carefully consider all of the factors, circumstances, and facts that are unique to your case, applying the law and assessing your damages accurately, so that you can request a fair settlement.
Going up against an insurance company often means that the balance of power is skewed: the insurer will likely have significant financial and legal resources, and their goal, of course, will be to minimize your settlement amount as much as possible. By partnering with an experienced personal injury attorney, you will level the playing field. Your attorney will use sound settlement negotiating tips to negotiate and communicate with the insurance company on your behalf—and, if a reasonable settlement is not possible, they will prepare a strong case to present at trial.
How Can The Francis Firm Help You During Your Settlement Negotiations?
It may be daunting to decide whether you should settle or take your personal injury claim to court, but with our experienced personal injury lawyers by your side, your settlement negotiations will benefit. We will inform you of your legal rights and options, and we will work with you to make sure you receive the medical care you need. If the insurance company refuses to offer full value in settlement, our trial-tested Texas personal injury lawyers are always ready to take them to court. With offices in Southlake, Dallas and Ft. Worth, reach out to us today for a free, no-obligation initial legal consultation online or by calling (817) 617-8639.