If you have searched “find a personal injury lawyer near me,” you may be feeling uncertain about how to proceed with a personal injury case. At the same time, you probably know that acting prudently throughout the process can impact the amount of compensation you receive. By sitting down with a lawyer in Houston, TX, you can get the information you need to make crucial decisions, including whether or not to accept a settlement offer outside court.
What Is a Settlement Offer?
A settlement offer is a means by which the plaintiff and the defendant can resolve their issues without paying the legal fees associated with a court trial. Usually, the defense will offer a sum of money that both parties agree is proportionate to the plaintiff’s grievances. In exchange, the plaintiff will sign away his or her right to sue the defendant over the issue addressed in the settlement.
In the case of a personal injury, the settlement offer usually provides compensation for medical expenses and other damages caused by the negligent party. Once all of the papers pertaining to the settlement are finalized, the case is effectively closed. Therefore, it is important to consider the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer carefully before making a decision.
What Are the Benefits of Accepting a Settlement Offer?
Most personal injury cases in Texas end via a settlement offer, and for good reason. Settling has benefits for all of the parties involved. Both the plaintiff and the defendant can save time and money that would have otherwise been spent in court.
In addition to requiring a great deal of time and attention, going to trial can become costly as court and legal fees add up. Getting ready for a trial involves preparing evidence according to legal standards, scheduling time to interview key witnesses, and attending to court protocols. Consequently, the rate to secure legal service is usually higher if the case goes to trial.
Benefits for the Defense
The defense may be incentivized to accept a settlement offer if their professional reputation is at stake. For example, a doctor might wish to settle to avoid a high-profile medical malpractice trial.
Additionally, if the defendant understands that there is strong evidence in the plaintiff’s favor, going to trial may seem like a futile effort to avoid paying for the damages. In some cases, losing the trial might even result in the defense being ordered to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees on top of the amount needed to cover the damages.
Benefits for the Plaintiff
For the plaintiff, one of the biggest reasons to accept a settlement offer is that, by resolving the matter outside of court, the risk of walking away empty-handed is eliminated. While a court-ordered payout might be higher than the settlement offer if the case is won, all compensation is forfeited if the case is lost.
In some cases involving sensitive topics like harassment, the plaintiff might also wish to protect his or her privacy by settling the issue through quiet negotiations.
What to Consider Before You Settle a Personal Injury Case Out of Court
Settling outside of court can have both pros and cons. Despite the potential benefits discussed above, you should consider whether or not you are ready to give up your right to take the defense to trial. Is the amount of money being offered proportionate to your damages? Do you have strong evidence that could likely convince the court to side with you, yielding a higher payout?
When to Go to Trial
Your lawyer will make sure that you are informed regarding the potential risks and benefits of going to trial. He or she will tell you, based on experience, how a court would likely react to the evidence you have available to present.
Your lawyer will also help you assess whether any of the settlement offers you have in hand are large enough to cover your losses. Ultimately, the decision to accept an offer or push for more money is entirely up to you.
How to Get the Highest Possible Settlement Offer
When worked to your advantage, the process of settling outside of court can be the most effective means of getting the compensation you deserve without jumping through legal hoops unnecessarily. Conversely, rushing into a settlement without having a good understanding of your rights can cost you thousands of dollars. Here are some important tips we give clients as they seek a settlement:
Make Sure You Calculate the Full Value of Your Claim
Personal injuries can be much more costly than they first appear. Before you enter into negotiations with the liable party, be sure to consider all of your past and future medical expenses, your lost wages, including unearned benefits, and your noneconomic losses. If you are unsure of which losses you are eligible to claim, it is best to discuss your case with a lawyer.
Let Your Lawyer Negotiate on Your Behalf
Speaking with an insurance company or another liable party directly can make you vulnerable to deceptive tactics. For example, the insurance company might try to make you believe they have grounds to argue that you were partially at fault for the accident, or that your demands are inflated. A well-practiced attorney can conduct the negotiations using effective methods that put pressure on the defense without jeopardizing your claim.
Choose a Lawyer Who Will Litigate
If the defense senses that your lawyer is hesitant to take the matter to trial, you will lose a considerable amount of bargaining power. While the ultimate goal may be to secure a favorable settlement, you should always work with a lawyer who is willing to go to court if necessary. When vetting law firms, you should look into their track records of winning court cases as well as settlements.
Don’t Rush to Accept an Offer
When you are recovering from an injury, there is a meaningful difference between accepting an offer that barely covers your medical expenses and securing a settlement that truly compensates you for the accident. Maximizing your payout might require you to spend some time gathering evidence and negotiating with the liable party. When you receive a settlement offer, your lawyer can help you consider whether it might be in your best interests to hold out for more money.
Where Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?
If you have received a settlement offer or if you intend to pursue one in the near future, our attorneys are there to provide expert legal support throughout the process. We would like to invite you to discuss your case with us, free of charge. To schedule a consultation in English or Spanish, you can call 713-804-2814. With extensive experience serving the Houston, TX community, we focus on delivering favorable case outcomes with compassion and integrity.
Take Your Case to a Top Law Firm in Houston, TX
The amount of money you secure after an accident can change your life, whether you settle outside of court or fight for your rights in front of a judge. Our attorneys will make optimizing your case our highest priority. To find out more about how our legal services can help you settle for the amount you deserve, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.