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Personal Injury Settlements: What Does It Mean to Settle a Case?

| May 8, 2015 | Personal Injury

(1) What does it mean to settle a personal injury case?

Settling a case simply means resolving the case without having to go to trial. When a personal injury case is settled, it means the injured party will accept money in exchange for not continuing with the lawsuit.

(2) Who decides to settle a case?

Settlement is the decision of the injured party alone. It is not the decision of the attorney and an attorney should never imply that it is their decision.

(3) Can I refile my personal injury lawsuit if I don’t like my settlement award?

No, you cannot. Settlement is similar to filing a lawsuit and the injured party generally only gets one opportunity to recover. Also, most settlements offers will include a release of further liability against the party who caused the injury. Thus, once a personal injury case has been officially settled it cannot be re-opened to seek a “better” award.

(4) When can a case be settled?

The short answer is that a personal injury case can be settled at any point in the course of the lawsuit – and even before a formal lawsuit has been filed with the court. If a lawsuit is filed, then the case can be settled before trial, during the trial, during jury deliberations, or even once a verdict has been returned. Thus, a personal injury case can be settled at any point in the litigation or trial.  Personal injury settlements merely need an agreement by both parties.  

(5) Do most personal injury cases end in a settlement?

Yes, most personal injury cases will end in a settlement. The statistics vary, but the range is generally between 80-90% of all personal injury cases will settle before trial.

(6) What are some reasons to consider settlement?

  • Time: A personal injury settlement will more than likely result in a faster method of being compensated for you injury. A lawsuit could take years from the time it is filed until a jury returns a verdict, and then if the decision is appealed it could take even longer to reach a final resolution. This time factor puts the injured party in-limbo while they wait for the resolution. Settlement is a quicker method to reaching a resolution.
  • Certainty: In agreeing to a settlement, the injured party will know the exact amount of money being offered. When a case goes to trial, the injured party does not know what the outcome will be. The jury is in control of returning a personal injury award, which means that going to trial carries two major risks; (1) losing the case and (2) receiving a lower verdict than hoped for. Going to trial can be very stressful and emotionally taxing.  Personal injury settlements offer certainty in both resolution and award.
  • Costs: Taking a case to a full trial can be very expensive and can impact the net amount the injured party will recover.
  • Finality: If a settlement is agreed to, then it cannot be appealed, meaning the dispute will be over and the injured party can move on with their life.

For a free consultation with a San Diego personal injury attorney ready to help you protect your interests, please contact Martinez & Schill LLP today at our San Diego office 619-512-5995, or our Riverside office 951-200-4630.  You can also email us at [email protected].