If you have been injured as a result of another person's negligence, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury attorney can lift the burden of dealing with the at-fault party's insurance company, which allows you more time to heal from your injuries. In the initial meeting with your attorney, you may hear mention of the word "settlement." A good, fair settlement offer is very desirable, since settling means avoiding court and the accompanying extra time and money spent to litigate your case. If you are interested in learning more about what it means to settle a personal injury case, read below.
Once you have met with and have been interviewed by your personal injury attorney, the information you provided about your accident and its effects is evaluated, and a demand letter is created. This important legal maneuver serves to place the opposing side on notice that you have retained professional legal help and that you are intending to file suit.
A good demand letter will detail all aspects of your accident and will usually include:
- A summary of your medical expenses so far and a projection of future medical expenses.
- A narrative of the day of the accident and the follow up events, such as hospitalization.
- The ways in which the injury has affected you and your family's lives.
- Why the other party is at fault.
- The total dollar amount you are requesting (or "demanding").
How much money should you demand?
- Lost wages: money lost for time you spent for treatments and recuperation, including time paid through sick leave or vacation pay. Future lost wages should be included if your injury is permanent.
- All past and future medical expenses.
- Any personal property lost as a result of the accident, such as vehicles, cell phones, and child car seats.
- Pain and suffering. This amount may be calculated based on the severity of your injuries.
Upon receipt of the demand letter, the insurance company for the other side will review the information and make a prediction about the chances of winning or losing if the case goes to trial. While much cannot be determined at this point, such as the validity of the evidence, many times the information provided in the demand letter is convincing enough to trigger a settlement offer.
Court can be difficult for those with severe injuries, and court cases are time-consuming and far more costly than settling out of court for both sides. Many demand letters result in a fair settlement offer, but more often it signals the beginning of the negotiations stage.
Your personal injury attorney will be a skilled negotiator, and will no doubt make a strong effort to get you a settlement offer that will result in the compensation that you deserve for your personal injury.