Auto-Accidents: Obtaining a Favorable Pre-trial Settlement
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I Was Involved in a Car Accident and May Need a Lawsuit Filed - Can I Settle the Claim Without Going to Trial?
Yes. As a matter of fact, most injury cases do not ever reach a civil trial, as most of them are resolved through settlement negotiations. A settlement may take place even prior to the filing of a lawsuit. A private settlement between parties is a favorable way to avoid the costs in time and money associated with an auto accident lawsuit. Settlements provide a discussion arena where the parties of an accident can negotiate with each other and with their respective insurance companies (or with their own insurance companies in some instances).
What Points Should I Cover in Order to Obtain a Favorable Settlement?
First of all, you should understand the basic aim of a settlement. The purpose of a settlement is to avoid trial. This is done by an agreement that the plaintiff will forgo rights to pursue trial in exchange for a sum of money or performance of an action (such as agreeing to provide a mechanic) by the defendant.
Thus, it is necessary for both parties to firmly know exactly what they want to obtain before entering into the settlement negotiation. Settlements almost always require a lawyer and/or mediator. Some points go over with your lawyer are:
- Your chances at trial and whether a lawsuit is really necessary
- The amount that you think your case is worth in terms of dollar amounts
- Discuss the minimum amount that you will accept or pay in order to reach a settlement. Do not disclose this information to the other party until necessary
- Outcomes and settlement amounts from similar previous cases
- Strengths and weaknesses of the evidence for both the opponent’s case and your own case
- The amount of insurance coverage and monetary resources available to the opposite party
- The affect of any settlement payments on related matters such as attorney’s fees and tax consequences
- If you are the plaintiff in the accident, consider whether remedies other than monetary payment are necessary
How are Settlement Payments Distributed in an Auto Accident Case?
If the monetary amount agreed upon in a settlement is relatively small, the plaintiff may agree to accept the payment in a single lump sum payment. If the agreement stipulates that the defendant perform or cease performing a certain action, a judge may issue an injunction to enforce the defendant’s required response.
However, if the settlement amount is for a very high monetary amount, then the plaintiff may opt for a structured settlement involving periodic payments, such as every month or yearly. Generally a structured settlement will require that the defendant’s insurance company purchase an annuity from an annuities company, which in turn pays the plaintiff’s settlement amounts. The annuity company will typically charge the defendant a fee or annuity rates in order to make a profit.
Larger settlement amounts can get financially complicated and may involve several tax consequences for both parties, so be sure to work closely with a lawyer in discussing the method of settlement payments.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me With My Auto Accident Settlement?
In almost all settlement endeavors you will need a lawyer present to help you negotiate your position. In some instances a lawyer is highly recommended in order for the settlement to proceed, such as if the other party is represented by a lawyer. A lawyer can help you go over the points mentioned above to ensure that you are well-prepared in entering the settlement and conclude with a favorable agreement.
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Last Modified: 07-01-2013 02:47 PM PDT
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