When you have been injured by another person, receiving compensation is the result of either a successful lawsuit or a settlement agreement. While lawsuits may attract more attention and interest, most legal disputes will be resolved through a settlement.
Settlements offer greater predictability, lower fees, and quicker resolutions than lawsuits, which makes them favored by plaintiffs and defendants alike. There is also a higher likelihood that a settlement will be discussed in your own personal injury case.
The defendant in your situation may offer you a specific amount for damages in return for your agreement to drop your lawsuit. The compensation value the defendant offers you — and the amount for which your case will settle — will depend on three key factors.
Settlement Amounts Are Tied to the Facts of Your Case
The three factors that impact your settlement’s value are unique to your case. Suppose that you are injured in a car crash when a negligent driver runs a red light. Even if another person is hurt under similar circumstances at the exact same intersection, the value of compensation the two of you could receive might be dramatically different.
This disparity in outcomes occurs because, despite the similarities, there are distinct circumstances at play in every case. These differences have a greater effect on how much your case is worth than where your accident takes place or how many people are involved. These determinative facts include the following:
1. The Strength of the Evidence Supporting Your Claims
If your case were to go to trial, your success would depend on whether you had witnesses and evidence available to prove the truth of your claims. This includes proving not just who was at fault but also the amount of damages you need to be fully compensated.
The more persuasive this evidence is in your case, the more likely the defendant will be to want to settle your case on favorable terms. You’ll want to have credible witnesses who clearly point to the defendant’s fault and objective medical records that support your claim for damages. With those key pieces of evidence, a defendant will be more eager to avoid a trial and the large potential judgment that might come with it.
Conversely, perhaps there are no witnesses to your accident besides yourself, the available evidence is inconclusive on the issue of fault, or there is room to doubt that you were injured as much as you claim.
In such a situation, you may still receive a settlement offer. However, the amount you are offered may be less than you could expect in a case with clearer evidence.
2. The Extent of Your Physical Injuries
A personal injury accident will often leave you with physical and mental or emotional harm. However, it is easier to assign a value to broken bones and brain trauma than the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety. As a result, the more severe your physical injuries, the more compensation you could receive through a settlement.
If you are shaken up but have no physical injuries, it will be more difficult to receive a larger settlement. You will need to produce compelling evidence that your mental injuries have dramatically impacted your quality of life to support a larger settlement award.
3. Your and the Defendant’s Desire to Avoid Trial
A trial represents risk, and each person’s or company’s risk tolerance is different. For the injured plaintiff, going to trial runs the risk that the judge or jury will not rule in their favor or will not award them as much compensation as they believe they deserve.
For defendants, a trial could result in an adverse judgment requiring them to pay significant amounts of compensation to the plaintiff. These charges would be incurred on top of attorney’s fees and other costs incidental to trial that they would bear regardless of the outcome.
If you are more comfortable with taking your case to trial than the defendant, you are in a good position to achieve a larger settlement. However, if your defendant is more comfortable with the risks of trial than you, then you may end up settling your case for a lower amount just to take advantage of the security and finality that a settlement offers.
The Difference an Experienced Attorney Makes in Your Case
Having legal counsel to represent you throughout your personal injury case can also make a difference in the outcome of your lawsuit. The experienced team at The Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC can help you understand the value of your case and decide on a reasonable settlement amount.
We are also able to vigorously and competently represent your interests at trial if no reasonable settlement can be reached. We are committed to helping you obtain full and fair compensation for all of your losses.