Personal Injury Law – What Is A Settlement?
In a personal injury case, a settlement occurs when there is an agreement between both sides in a civil law suit or through negotiations. The majority of personal injury cases, be they from a premises injury, transportation accident, medical malpractice, product liability, dog bite, wrongful death, or other type of injury, do not go to trial, but are settled by negotiating with the other party. One side will try to avoid going to trial by offering a specific amount of compensation that they would like the other party to agree to. It is usually, but not always, the defendant that requests a settlement. This is done to minimize the expense they will incur if the case goes to trial.
There is no typical, minimum or maximum settlement amount. The award is dependent upon a number of things, including:
The type of injury and how severe it is
How long it appears the injury will last and require treatment
What financial damages will be incurred (medical expenses, lost income)
A qualified personal injury attorney is the best person to weigh the damages caused by the injury and to put a value to your claim.
It is best to wait until the injured party has a full medical evaluation and is through, minimally, a portion of their treatment before a settlement demand occurs. It is only in this way that there may be a knowledgeable determination of the harm and damages caused by the injury, resulting in a settlement that will be significant enough to cover the future medical needs and expenses of the victim. Negotiation between both sides will then take place until an acceptable settlement amount is agreed upon. The negotiations may occur in an informal way, or, if necessary, mediation may occur.
A personal injury settlement may be received in two ways. One is a lump-sum award, in which the entire amount of compensation is given in a one-time payment. The other is called a structured settlement. There are a number of benefits to a structured settlement, such as tax benefits, and having the ability to predict future income, which assists in preparing in advance for the needs of the injured party. Before deciding on what type of settlement to choose, consulting an attorney and an experienced financial planner is advisable, since each person’s needs are unique.