When people get injured in a car collision or another type of accident, they often worry about hiring an attorney to guide them through the claims process. They imagine legal TV shows, with lawyers yelling at each other and judges trying to keep control. That’s why most people are surprised to learn that the majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial.
Have you been hurt because of someone else’s negligence? Learn about your legal options now by calling call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 800-574-4332.
Out of all of the personal injury claims that occur each year, only 4% to 5% ever see the inside of a courtroom. Of those that do go to trial, the results are unpredictable, and the victim and risks not getting any compensation at all. However, those cases that do go trial also give the victim the chance to recover punitive damages, which can significantly increase the amount they receive. To boil it all down, taking a claim to trial is a high-risk high potential reward proposition.
Factors Affecting Your Claim
What does the unlikelihood of litigation mean for your claim? It means that you can take a deep breath and rest easy, since it is very unlikely that your personal injury claim will go to court. Both victims and insurance companies benefit when claims can be resolved outside the courtroom, so if you have an experienced attorney, you’re in a good position to negotiate for what you deserve.
A number of factors can determine whether or not your case goes to court. These include:
- The skill of your attorney. A good personal injury attorney knows the ins and outs of a tough negotiation. Insurance companies spend a lot of money figuring out how to deprive victims of the money they deserve, and attorneys spend a lot of time finding ways to hold insurance companies accountable. An attorney who knows when to push for more, when to pull back, when to call off negotiations, and when to wait can mean the difference between a satisfactory settlement and a drawn-out court battle.
- The flexibility of the insurance company. Of course, the attorney isn’t the only party in negotiations. The insurance company plays a big role. While most insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid a court case and the extra money associated with one, some are very stubborn when it comes to settling claims. No matter how reasonable an attorney is, they may refuse to negotiate.
- How cut-and-dry your claim is. If it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that the other party caused your injury, the insurance company may be in a rush to settle the claim, get it done, and move on. If liability is in question, though, they may be willing to take their chances in court.
- The value of your claim. The value of your claim is an important factor. The more expensive your claim is likely to be, the more pushback you may get from the insurance company.
- Your role in the accident. Whether or not you share any liability for the accident is very important. Alabama uses the doctrine of pure contributory negligence, which states that if a victim is at all liable for the accident, they recover nothing in court. This means that insurance companies might be willing to go to court if they have a good chance of proving that you are partially at fault.
To Settle or Not to Settle?
This is another area where you should trust your attorney. Deciding whether or not to settle is a question that varies from case to case. In some cases, the insurance company’s final offer is insultingly low and you’re better off going to court. In other cases, litigation might just be too risky and the insurance company’s final offer is actually fair.
That’s why it’s important to choose an attorney you can trust. An experienced attorney has seen enough personal injury cases play out that they know how yours is likely to resolve. Pushing for more when the insurance company has already offered a fair amount or insisting on taking your case to court could lead to you getting nothing. Follow your attorney’s guidance in this area.
The benefits of settling include a quicker timeframe and control over negotiations. Trials can take months or years but settling generally yields results in less than six months. Furthermore, you and your attorney maintain control over what happens in negotiations. If you don’t like how negotiations are going or you feel like the insurance company is not negotiating in good faith, you can walk away and decide to take your case to court. Overall, the process is often much less stressful.
The drawbacks of settling include the possibility of receiving less money than you could receive in court and losing the ability to go after the company for more money in the future. Whenever you accept a settlement, it is a compromise. There’s always the possibility that you could take your case to court and get much more if the court is convinced of the other party’s fault, and there may be even more at stake if there are punitive damages. Additionally, once you settle, your claim is done. No matter what information comes up in the future, you cannot renegotiate.
The advantages of going to court include a strong sense of justice and the possibility of greater compensation. If the other person intentionally wronged you, you may want to see them go through the stress and financial pain of court. People often feel vindicated if a drunk driver, attacker, or intentionally negligent property owner must pay punitive damages in court. On top of that, your final award could be more than you would have received in a settlement.
The disadvantages of going to court include the long timeframe and the risk of walking away with nothing. Rather than getting your compensation in a matter of months, you could be waiting up to a year or more for results in a court case. This draws out your stress, particularly if your medical bills are piling up and you are still unable to return to work. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the fact that, despite everything, you could walk away with nothing if the court does not find in your favor.
Get the Help You Deserve with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey
Don’t rely on the insurance company to give you the money you deserve after an accident. Let us help. Schedule a consultation with our team now by calling us at 800-574-4332 or contacting us online.