3 Things You Should Know About Settlement Negotiations
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Jun 07, 2011 in Advice
Settlement is a common resolution for personal injury lawsuits. It may seem like an agreement between the attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant, however, the processes are often a little more complex. Negotiated settlements must be legal in order to become legally binding, for example. Judges may play a large role, depending on the type of settlement that you receive. Although your attorney may give you a blow by blow report of the proceedings, there are still at least five things that you must consider.
1. It May Not Be Legal Until It's On Paper
The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled is previous cases that negotiations are not binding until they are recorded in writing. This also includes settlement negotiations made in mediation as well. The attorneys for both sides will have several verbal interactions before a deal is struck, oftentimes before the clients are brought to the negotiation table. Some mediations are overseen by settlement judges who help both parties reach an agreement out of court. (This may be the only time, other than a court ordered settlement that you will see a judge preside over the settlement. In court ordered settlement negotiations, the judge may have final say over the final document.) However, all agreements are not final until they are in writing.
2. Lawyers Prepare for Trial Even if a Settlement is Likely
The outcome of the case does not affect the amount of research, investigation, and preparation time that the attorney will put into your case. In fact, a personal injury attorney must have as much information about the case as he can in order to negotiate a settlement. The information includes that amount of funds at the defendant’s disposal, the court decisions from previous cases, background information about all parties involved, and the value of each factor being considered in the suit. This information and more will give the attorney an edge on which to negotiate a settlement, just as it would give an edge in arguing the case in court.
3. Any attorney can negotiate a personal injury settlement, but only a personal injury attorney knows how to do so effectively
In addition to knowledge of Indiana law, a personal injury attorney must know the value of the case (often the most important information to the plaintiff). Any attorney can file the lawsuit, but a specific type of experience and knowledge is needed in order to set the amount of damages asked for. This information comes from intimate knowledge of the insurance industry’s valuation formulas, legal precedents (set by years of previous cases), and experience in the personal injury law field. Knowledge of the laws specific to the personal injury field are also something that you can only find with a personal injury attorney. The attorney will know the limits of the damages, statute of limitations, and even the type of damages that one can ask the court for. Not knowing these things could put your case at risk of being thrown out of court. Your day in court or in an out of court settlement can run more smoothly if you understand a few things about the process and what it entails. Your indiana personal injury attorney will give you a rundown of the process. However, keep these expectations in mind as well, to avoid any unnecessary anxiety while your case is being negotiated.