In a personal injury lawsuit, the parties may pursue a settlement as a way of resolving their dispute. Rather than having the court decide how much the defendant should pay the victim, the parties agree on their own to the terms of payment or compensation. This can occur before, during, or sometimes towards the end of trial.
One side will basically present a settlement offer to the other side, who will then decide whether the amount is satisfactory or not. Depending on the situation, the plaintiff can then either reject the offer or engage in negotiations to obtain a better settlement amount. Many lawsuits arise because the parties first attempted settlement negotiations, but were unable to reach an agreement.
A partial settlement can occur when the parties agree to settle, but they don’t actually settle on all of the legal issues involved.
For example, in an automobile accident lawsuit, the defendant may agree to settle regarding payment for the person’s injuries. However, they may not agree to paying compensation for damages to the plaintiff’s automobile, if they are arguing that they didn’t cause the car damage (for example, if the damage was caused by a third vehicle).
Another example is where the defendant settles with regards to compensatory damages for the plaintiff’s losses, but disagrees with a claim for punitive damages. Here, the court may issue a ruling with regards to the compensatory damages, but then may continue to conduct analyses regarding the punitive damages claim.
Generally speaking, it’s up to the parties as to whether or not they want to settle. As mentioned, settlement can arise during pretrial settlement negotiations, during trial, or towards the end of trial. In most cases, settlement should be approved by the court, especially if trial has already begun.
Most courts would prefer for settlements to occur before trial, so as not to waste judicial time or resources. However, a settlement may not actually be possible until some of the facts have been disclosed through the start of the trial.
Obtaining a full or partial settlement often requires the help of a legal expert. It’s in your best interests to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer if you need help with a partial settlement. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and representation in court to assist you with your legal issues. Also, partial settlement laws can vary according to state and according to each situation; however, a lawyer will be able to explain your rights to you.