A settlement agreement can refer to a way that some personal injury claims get resolved. Instead of having a court pronounce a damages award for the victim, the parties may simply agree to a payment amount. This can often save the parties and the court valuable time as well as monetary resources. The terms of the payment amount may be finalized in what is called a settlement agreement.

A personal injury settlement is usually reached outside of court, before trial begins. In some cases, settlement can occur in the middle of trial, especially where facts emerge that make it highly likely that one party will prevail.    

In other areas of law, the term “settlement statement” refers agreements involving loans and debt arrangements. 

What Is the Average Personal Injury Settlement?

Personal injuries can vary depending on the type of case and amount of damages that the plaintiff suffered. There are many different types of personal injury cases and the settlement for each of these cases depends on many different factors.  The main factor that the parties look at when coming to a settlement agreement is the damages that the plaintiff suffered. There damages can be medical expenses, property damage, physical and emotional damages, and/or lost wages.

What Are the Benefits of a Personal Injury Settlement?

There are several benefits to personal injury settlements. For one, the parties may be able to save costs on trial and other legal fees. Secondly, they might be able to reach a settlement agreement that is more accurate than if they had the court calculate a damages award.

However, a settlement is not always an option, especially if the parties have a disagreement on one of the terms. In such cases, the parties may sometimes reach a partial settlement, and then litigate the disputed terms in court.

Are Settlement Agreements Enforceable?

When both parties agree to a settlement, they should finalize the terms of the settlement into a written document. This document, called the settlement agreement, operates basically as a contract between the two parties. The parties should agree to the terms, review them, and sign them in order to make the agreement enforceable. 

If the parties have already filed suit, they should give notice to the court and submit the document to the judge for review. The judge can review the terms to ensure that they don’t violate any laws. If needed, the judge can convert the settlement agreement into a court order, which may provide additional protection for the parties.

What Should Be Contained in a Settlement Agreement?

A settlement agreement should contain important information pertaining to the settlement, including:

  • Names and contact information of all the parties involved
  • Amount of the settlement agreement, which is how much the defendant will pay the victim)
  • Terms of payment
  • Whether the terms of the agreement can be modified at a future date
  • What types of penalties or legal consequences will occur if the defendant fails to pay the agreed-upon amounts

Lastly, a settlement agreement should also include whether the rights to the settlement amounts can be sold or transferred as a property interest. Some recipients in a settlement arrangement may be interested in selling their settlement in the future.

How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?

It is usually up to the parties to work out how they want the settlement payments to be paid out. In some cases, the paying party may be willing to issue one lump sum payment in full. However, there may be negative tax consequences for the recipient party with a lump sum payment. Thus, many plaintiffs choose other payment plans, such as a structured settlement plan where the payments are made on a cyclical, periodic basis.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Personal Injury Settlement Agreement?

As with any type of legal contract or agreement, a settlement agreement should be entered into carefully. If at all possible, you should hire a personal injury lawyer for legal representation whenever dealing with settlement agreements or damages award.  Your attorney will be able to represent and guide you during the negotiation process, and can be on hand during official court meetings.