How a Lawyer Settles a Personal Injury Case
Very few personal injury cases go to trial. The vast majority of the cases reach a resolution before going in front of a jury. That means, when you’re working towards getting fair compensation in your injury case, how you negotiate your settlement is crucial.
There are important things that your lawyer can do to increase the size of your settlement and ensure that your case resolves on fair terms. Here’s how a Nevada personal injury law firm settles an injury case.
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Your Attorney Establishes Your Case
Even though it’s very unlikely that you will go to trial, your attorney begins the case by assuming that it will go to trial. That means carefully drafting filing documents so that they withstand scrutiny from the court. You must thoroughly state your claim of action and your grounds for recovery.
There are steps that your injury attorney takes at this stage to preserve evidence. They might demand that people save evidence that may be crucial to the case like surveillance video. They might help you discover and document the extent of your injuries with the help of medical professionals. Establishing the evidence in your case is critical to helping the other side understand why it’s in their best interests to come to the table with a fair settlement offer.
Serious Settlement Talks Typically Occur After Discovery
In cases where fault is obvious, and there’s an insurance policy to cover the damages, settlement talks may occur quickly after an accident. However, in the vast majority of cases, settlement talks don’t begin until after both sides have time to learn about the case. Even though you’re the plaintiff and the victim, you may not know all of the details surrounding the accident. The other side also wants to learn the details of the accident.
Through a process called discovery, both sides have an opportunity to dive into the details and build their case. Discovery may include depositions, written questions called interrogatories, and physical inspections of the scene. The discovery process can take several months for complicated cases. The purpose of discovery is to narrow the issues for trial and give each party a fair chance to learn the facts of the case to determine how they want to proceed.
Your Attorney Carefully Values Your Damages
A large part of the discovery process is determining the value of your case. When you get to the bottom of the value of your case, you know where to begin to negotiate with the other side. The defense is likely also taking the time to value the claim. If both sides can apply a measure of objectivity to the case, they may be able to narrow the amount of disagreement about the case.
For example, if you believe that the case is worth $100,000 and the other side thinks that it’s worth $10,000, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to resolve the case through settlement. However, if you both extensively prepare the case through discovery, you might get closer to a resolution. You might conclude that your case is worth $80,000. If the other side goes through the discovery process and finds that the case is worth $75,000, you’re much closer to reaching a settlement than you were before.
In most cases, your injury lawyer allows the discovery process to play out to let the other side to learn about the strengths of your case for upcoming negotiations. Once you complete the discovery process, it’s time for your lawyer to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
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Writing a Demand Letter
One way that your lawyer settles a personal injury case is by sending a demand letter to the defense. A demand letter clearly states the basis of your case and your claims for damages. If the defense hasn’t put it all together already, your attorney can help you clarify the case and what you’re looking for as a resolution.
The defense can respond by agreeing to your demands. They can also respond with a counteroffer. If they don’t respond at all, the case continues on track towards trial until further negotiations.
Talking With the Other Side
Your attorney also works to settle your case through informal discussions with the other side. Your attorney has training and experience that helps them in these discussions. The attorneys might talk about any points of contention in the case and negotiate terms of a settlement.
There Are Often Back-And-Forth Negotiations
It’s unlikely that your injury lawyer is going to settle the case with one phone call. There’s often a back and forth in negotiations. The other side might dispute some of your claims. Your attorney can strategically decide when to share information with the other side and when it’s best to save information for later.
Back and forth negotiations with the other side are strategic. Your attorney may not want the other side to know your bottom line. They might not want the other side to know your lawyer’s mental impressions of the case. Your injury lawyer settles your case by handling these negotiations tactfully and strategically.
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Formal Mediation Procedures
A personal injury lawyer might pursue settlement of your case in mediation. Mediation is a formal negotiation proceeding. Unlike the informal back and forth that the attorneys may engage in over the phone or by email, mediation occurs face to face. The parties also have the assistance of a trained mediator to help them narrow the issues and facilitate settlement discussions.
A Settlement Is Valid When It’s Signed in Writing
If the parties reach a settlement, your lawyer settles your case by putting the agreement in writing. A settlement agreement is valid when the agreement is in writing, and both sides sign it.
Your lawyer carefully reviews the draft of the settlement to make sure that it fairly represents the agreement. If you agree to the settlement, the parties forward a signed copy of it to the court for the court’s approval. Once the judge signs the agreement, your lawyer has settled your case.
How an Attorney Can Help
Having the right attorney on your side is critical to getting fair payment for your personal injury claim. With most cases settling before trial, having an experienced and confident attorney on your side makes all the difference.
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Adam S. Kutner
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With more than 32 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.
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