When you have been injured in some way, and you are seeking compensation, there is a good chance that at some point you will be offered a settlement.
While it can be tempting to just jump at the money, it’s important that you take a step back and consider the offer. Here are 4 things to consider before you accept a settlement:
1. Amount Offered
The first thing to consider is how much is being offered by the defendant. Is the settlement substantially lower than the damages you are seeking? If so, think twice before accepting a settlement.
Hopefully, you have a personal injury attorney who can advise you in these matters. Your lawyer should be able to help you set a reasonable amount for damages, and then help you decide whether or not you are being lowballed in a settlement offer.
A settlement is, by default, going to be less than you are asking for in terms of compensation and damages. However, if the settlement seems reasonable, it can make sense to accept it.
Before accepting a settlement, go over the precedents with your personal injury attorney. Have similar cases won? How much were the awards? If there isn’t much reason to expect that you will win, or win what you want, it can make sense to just take the settlement.
In some cases, there might not be a clear precedent. You and your lawyer need to decide whether or not you want to risk a loss. If your attorney thinks that your situation has the potential to be a landmark, precedent-setting case, it might make sense to go forward, even without a precedent as a guide.
3. Length of Court Proceedings
Anytime you have a trial of some sort, it will take a long time. It can take years for a civil lawsuit to wend its way through the system. Discuss the situation with your lawyer. In some cases, it’s possible to receive a summary judgment and move things through quickly. There are other ways to get the trial taken care of in months instead of years.
However, if it appears that delays are going to be the norm, and you are intent on just putting the matter behind you, and if the settlement isn’t egregious, it might make sense to take the money and move on.
4. What Does the Evidence Look Like?
With your personal injury attorney, go through the evidence. Be completely honest. Does it look like you have a good case? Be clear about the evidence, and consider all of the factors above. If your evidence is starting to look a little weak, it might be a good idea to accept the settlement. It is important to remember that, although you believe in your case, you need to convince a jury that you have a good case. Is the jury more likely to believe you or the defendant? Talk with your attorney about what he or she thinks.
Only you know what makes sense in your situation. Consult with your lawyer to get a better idea of the situation, and to receive good advice about how to proceed. With some careful thought and insight from your attorney, you can make the best possible decision about whether or not to accept a settlement.