Should You Settle Your Personal Injury Claim?


If you have suffered injuries or damage in a personal injury claim, your attorney has likely built a strong case for a financial settlement with the defendant and his or her insurance carrier. As a part of case development, the attorney has likely gathered all evidence, spoke to eyewitnesses, hired expert witnesses, re-created the scene of the accident, and reviewed your medical records. But exactly how do you know what the value of your claim is worth, and if the amount being offered in a settlement will fully compensate you for your injuries?

Your skilled personal injury attorney likely used proven methods to calculate the value of your claim accurately, based on a variety of factors. Most of these factors include:

• The cost of your medical expenses, hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic care, prescription medications and other medical expenses associated with your injuries
• The cost of any repair or replacement of personal property damaged in the accident or incident, like repairs for your vehicle after a collision
Funeral and burial expenses for a wrongful death claim
• Compensation for total or partial permanent disability
• The worth of non-economic damages including, pain, suffering, emotional distress and anxiety

Can You Win a Case at Trial?

When considering a settlement versus taking the case to trial, it is essential to remain realistic and objective. The outcome of your personal injury trial will be determined by the strength of your case presented in court to an unpredictable jury. What the jury thinks of the evidence presented both for and against you, along with your credibility, and the credibility of your eyewitnesses and expert witnesses will all have an influence on whether or not you win the case.

In many incidences, the insurance company required to pay any award at trial will hire the best legal minds to present an aggressive argument against your claim for financial compensation. While you can accept 100 percent of the settlement the insurance company offers, you may be left with only a minimal amount of an award if you win, or no money at all, if you lose the trial.

How Much Compensation is Awarded?

When the jury hears a personal injury case, they are charged with the duty to decide what type of damages will be awarded if you win your case. The jury will be instructed to consider:

• Special Damages – This involves any damage that can be exactly calculated
• General Damages – This involves any damage that cannot be exactly calculated

In some incidences, conservative juries will only award special damages, or the amount of exact loss including medical bills, lost earnings and the expense of repair or replacement of damaged items. Alternatively, extremely liberal juries might provide an award of all special and general damages, along with punitive compensation that far exceeds your settlement offer.

While you have 100 percent chance of accepting a reasonable full offer from the insurance carrier, the chance of winning at trial is never more than 50 percent, with an amount of the award left up to the jury.

Negotiating Tactics

If you decide that settling your claim through a negotiated offer is your best option, it is imperative to use the proven negotiation tactics to maximize the amount. However, the process of negotiation can be delicate and complex, and should be left to an experienced lawyer. This is because when attempting to negotiate on your own, the insurance claims adjuster will attempt to wear you down, hoping you will accept an amount far less than the worth of the claim.

Alternatively, a skilled attorney who specializes in personal injury claims will fully calculate the value of your case and make an initial demand large enough to negotiate down to a lower amount you require. This tactic will ensure you receive adequate compensation to pay all of your tangible and non-tangible expenses to relieve you of financial burdens, while you take the time to heal from your injuries.