Recently I was speaking with a client who was involved in a serious car accident. Negotiations have been ongoing with the insurance company for over a month already, but I felt that their offers to settle the case were too low. I presented the offer to my client and reminded him that it is his choice whether to accept the offer, and that if he feels it is too low we can proceed to a lawsuit.
My client then asked me – how is a lawsuit going to affect me and my case? I realized that this might be a question that a lot of personal injury victims share and will be a good topic for a blog post.
In a previous post “Some Thoughts on Settlement“, I offered some advice regarding the decision to accept or decline an auto accident or other personal injury settlement. Here is some additional information to consider if you choose to decline the offer.
A lawsuit is filed directly against the person, persons, or corporations that caused your injury from an auto accident, slip and fall, motorcycle accident, wrongful death, etc. His or her insurance company is not named in the lawsuit, but they will likely supply the defense attorney.
Your personal injury attorney will handle all of the additional work required with a lawsuit. Personally, the impact on you as plaintiff should be very little. You will be required to assist in discovery (answering questions and producing documentation that the defense requests) and you will likely have a deposition (a lengthy interview concerning the facts of the accident and the injuries sustained).
Beyond these obligations there should be little other impact on you personally. Of course, a lawsuit will greatly delay the amount of time before you recover the money to which you are entitled. The amount, however, is likely to be greater.
Filing a lawsuit does not always end in an actual trial. In fact, more often than not, a lawsuit will never make it to trial. Often, personal injury cases can be resolved by settlement, mediation or arbitration after a lawsuit was filed. Mediation and arbitration are similar dispute resolution processes. An impartial third party (not a judge) hears both sides and makes determinations as to a fair and equitable settlement.
If you have a strong case, then filing a lawsuit can really give you leverage in negotiations. The insurance company knows that they will have to pay a defense attorney to defend the case and that you are willing to wait for your day in Court rather than accept what little money they are offering you at the time. Of course, you need to speak with your attorney about your individual case and filing a lawsuit is not always the right thing to do.
It is essential to your case that you hire the right attorney. An attorney who is ready to file and proceed in a lawsuit to ensure that you receive all of the money to which you are entitled. If you have been injured in a personal injury of any kind, contact my office right away for a free consultation.