What Does It Mean to “Settle” an Injury Case?

What Does It Mean to “Settle” an Injury Case?When you get hurt in North Carolina and choose to pursue legal action through a personal injury case, it is not always a quick process. You will need to work alongside an experienced Charlotte personal injury attorney to help you prove your injuries and get you the compensation you deserve. That compensation will help cover the costs you accumulated for treating your injuries, bills you will receive for future treatment, and any emotional pain and suffering. When you pursue a personal injury claim, you may be expecting to take it all the way to a trial in court and have a judge and jury come to a verdict, hopefully in your favor. However, it does not always happen that way.

Often, personal injury cases are settled out of court before they reach trial. Settling, in this case, means that you are agreeing to accept compensation in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. This will also result in the other party to not be found legally at fault for causing the accident. Some people may want to take their case all the way to trial in an effort to secure justice, but it is not always the best decision. Working with a Charlotte personal injury lawyer can provide a lot of insight and guidance as they explain the pros and cons of going to trial versus reaching a settlement.

Why would you want to settle a personal injury case?

As a person who is injured, you may really want to prove your case to the court and show that the other party was negligent. However, there may be times when a settlement is your best option. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Avoiding expensive legal fees. Litigation (the act of taking a case to trial) can be expensive. The more time your attorney needs to put into your case, the higher the fees and expenses, like hiring experts, will be.
  • Receiving compensation quicker. When you choose to accept a settlement instead of going to trial, it will often speed up the process of getting your compensation. A personal injury lawsuit can take years to reach a conclusion. Having a case go all the way to trial usually will prolong your case, which means more potential attorney and administrative fees.
  • Less risk of an unfavorable outcome. Even if you feel like you have a really strong case, there is never a way to be 100% certain you will win over a jury at trial. Going to trial could potentially mean walking away with nothing, whereas a settlement is guaranteed compensation.
  • Lower stress levels. Sitting on the witness stand can be extremely stressful for everyone involved in the case, even if they are not the ones at fault. Cross-examination can last days and force you to relive traumatic events. It may also ease your stress to know that, by accepting a fair settlement, you know what the outcome of your case is.
  • Privacy. If you go to trial, those records are typically made public. They can include all witness testimonies, evidence, and more. Settling can give you the option of choosing what is made public and what remains private in the terms of your case.

How does negotiating a settlement work?

If you are open to negotiating a settlement for your personal injury case, it is recommended that you seek the help of an attorney. The other party will likely have an attorney on their side, and your goal is to be compensated fairly and justly for all that you endured during and after your accident. An attorney also provides access to resources, like accident reconstructionists and expert witnesses, who can help show the true extent of your injuries and losses . A Charlotte personal injury lawyer can assist by:

  • Writing a demand letter outlining your claim for compensation.
  • Responding to arguments and counteroffers that suggest conflicting opinions about fault, the amount of medical compensation needed, etc.
  • Guiding you on the next best move, to ensure that you do not accept a final offer that will not cover your medical bills and lost wages or does not fairly compensate you for your pain and suffering. Your attorney will provide you with guidance on where to go from here.
  • Making another demand if you decide what the other side countered with is not sufficient.
  • Receiving a final offer where you will decide if you want to accept it or move forward with a trial instead.

Although a Charlotte personal injury attorney will help with negotiations and give you advice, accepting a settlement offer is always ultimately up to you.

What happens if you do not settle a case?

If you choose to not settle a case directly with the other party, there are a few different ways your case can continue:

  • Arbitration. This is when both parties select an arbitrator, or a neutral third party, who will help them resolve their dispute with the goal to reach settlement before trial. Arbitrators are typically other attorneys, business professionals, or retired judges, and they essentially act as a private judge for this case. The arbitrator will listen to the facts and determine an outcome on their own, and their decision is usually legally binding.
  • Mediation. Similar to arbitration, the goal of mediation is also to eventually lead to settlement before trial. However, it takes place at a mediator’s office, so neither side gets special treatment, and the process feels a little more informal. Both parties must agree on the mediator selected, and the mediator will help both parties come to a mutual agreement on settlement.
  • Litigation. This is the formal process of filing legal paperwork saying you want to take legal action. This typically means that both parties will need to appear in a courtroom. If both parties cannot agree to settle their case by any of the other ways mentioned, then the case will be taken to trial and seen before a judge and jury.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident in or around the Charlotte area, reach out to the team at Price, Petho & Associates for help today. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other losses. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling complex accident claims throughout the state, and we will provide guidance on the best way to move forward with your case. To schedule a free consultation, call our office or submit our contact form today. We have offices in Charlotte, Rockingham, and Rutherfordton.