Personal injury settlements are agreements regarding the compensation of an injured party for their losses that are agreed to in order to avoid continuing the litigation process. In many cases, an injury settlement may occur before trial begins, during the pretrial stage of the lawsuit. Rather than proceed with trial and spend additional expenses on the court process, the defendant may agree to pay a certain amount to “settle” the case. This can save the parties additional time and money.
Additionally, settlement may occur at various points during the trial. This can happen for instance if new information arises that causes one or both parties to seek settlement.
What Is the Process of Calculating Personal Injury Settlements?
The settlement process is largely a series of back-and-forth negotiations between the parties. For instance, one party might suggest a settlement amount at the beginning of trial. From there, it is up to the other party to respond by either accepting the settlement offer or responding with a counter-offer.
Thus, settlement calculations are sometimes different than calculating a straight damages award. Settlement calculations may involve other factors such as:
- How much the other party is able or willing to pay
- How much time/money each party will save by settling rather than pursuing litigation
- What is allowed under state laws (this is especially true for other aspects such as punitive damages, etc.)
Of course, traditional calculations are also included, such as the amount of costs spent by the plaintiff, any property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. However, settlements tend to be subject to negotiation.
Once a figure is agreed upon, the parties may submit their conclusions to a judge, who will then approve the amount and finalize it into a court order.
What If I Have a Dispute over a Settlement Amount?
Violations of settlement rulings are subject to legal consequences such as a contempt order. Settlement agreements basically become legal contracts. Thus, the defendant becomes legally liable for making the settlement payments, either in a full lump sum or in periodic payments. Failure to follow the settlement ruling can result in a lawsuit seeking the enforcement of the settlement agreements.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Personal Injury Settlement?
Personal injury settlements can often be a viable option for both parties. However, they generally require much skill when it comes to calculating and negotiating figures and amounts. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need help with a personal injury case. Your lawyer can help represent you during settlement negotiations and can advise on how to proceed.