If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, then you need to brace yourself. If you haven’t already, then pretty soon you might be inundated with settlement offers from insurance companies, negligent driver, and/or truck companies, depending on the facts of your case. At first blush, those settlement offers might sound nice. After all, it provides you with quick cash without much conflict. But the truth of the matter is that your case is probably worth a lot more than you’re being offered.
This is why it is important to know how to appropriately handle settlement negotiations before agreeing to anything. To do so, you’ll need to consider the following:
- The strengths of your case: Look at the evidence you have and think about how strongly it shows negligence and the full extent of your damages. Did the other motorist admit to texting and driving or falling asleep? Was he or she arrested for drunk driving? If these facts exist, then you’re case is probably pretty strong.
- Consider the weaknesses: Every case has weaknesses. Maybe the other side is going to argue that you were fully or at least partially at fault for an accident, which could affect your ability to recover the full extent of your damages. If these weaknesses are pretty significant, then you’ll need to be more inclined to consider a settlement that works for you.
- How have similar cases turned out: By looking at cases involving similar facts, you can get a clearer sense of how judges and juries typically respond to your kind of argument. This can give you leverage during negotiations and confidence in the face of litigation.
- How much time do you want to spend: Litigation can take some time to complete, so settlement is obviously a quicker option. However, if you’re willing to sit tight to let litigation play out, then you might be able to recover a greater amount of compensation for your losses.
- Be prepared to litigate: This is oftentimes the most important aspect of a personal injury case. By being prepared to litigate, you know the fact, the evidence in play, the law and how it applies, and how juries are likely to respond. Showing fearlessness at the negotiation table can give the other side pause, and it might lead them to meet you closer to where you want the case to end up.
There are a number of ways you can be prepared to litigate, too, including:
- Taking depositions
- Requesting documentation from pertinent sources
- Conducting accident reconstruction
- Conferring with experts
- Preparing witnesses for testifying
- Crafting opening and closing statements
Fully preparing for litigation can take time and effort, but it is often the best way to position yourself for success with your claim.
The sad fact of the matter is that many attorneys are afraid to go to trial. As a result, they are often too quick to settle claims for less than they are worth. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, consider working with a law firm that has the track record of experience necessary to show its commitment to zealously advocating in the courtroom. After all, this may be the only way that you secure the future that you envision for yourself and your family.