If you have been the victim of a personal injury accident – whether it was a car accident, dog bite, workplace accident or any other type of personal injury accident – then you should understand that at some point you will be required to decide whether or not to settle your case or to take it to trial. The decision whether or not to settle your case can be a difficult and confusing one. It is also a personal decision that ultimately only you-the victim- can make. The following tips, however, may help you make an informed and intelligent decision.
1. Make sure you have a competent and experienced attorney to consult with. While simple personal injury accidents where the victim sustained minor injuries may be able to be settled without the need to hire an attorney, if you are considering a trial or are unsure what your case is worth then the help of an experienced personal injury attorney can be invaluable. Your attorney should thoroughly explain your options to you and be prepared to proceed to trial if you no not reach a settlement agreement. Make sure you ask all the questions you have for your attorney before making your decision. An experienced personal injury attorney should be willing and able to spend as much time as necessary with you explaining your settlement offer and advising you on whether or not you should accept it. Remember, however, that your attorney cannot make the decision for you – only you can make the final choice.
2. Be realistic about the value of your case. Valuing a personal injury case is a complicated process sometimes. The value of your case will depend on a number of factors including the extent and severity of your injuries, the degree to which the defendant was negligent and how the accident has affected your life. It may seem as though putting a monetary value on your injuries is impossible, but remember that if you reject a settlement offer then a jury will have to do just that. This is where trusting the experience of your attorney becomes important. An experienced personal injury attorney should be able to explain, in detail, what goes into valuing your case. He should also be able to tell you what a jury in your area is LIKELY to do if you proceed to trial.
3. Understand the possible risks and rewards of rejecting a settlement offer. It is rare that a settlement offer is as high as what the plaintiff was expecting or believes that it should be. If you are lucky enough to be offered what you think the case is worth then settlement seems the obvious choice. If, however, the settlement offer is less than what you were expecting, take the time to weight the pros and cons of rejecting the offer. Taking a personal injury case to trial is risky – you could win big but you could also lose big as well. By accepting an offer, you KNOW you will receive compensation for your injuries. A trial, on the other hand, provides no guarantees. Clearly, if the settlement offer is extremely low then a trial may be inevitable. If, however, the settlement offer is reasonable, then think long and hard before you risk a guaranteed compensation amount for a jury decision.
If you have further questions or would like a free and detailed consultation and evaluation of your California personal injury case, please feel free to contact the personal injury law firm of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit their website for more information at www.ledgerlaw.com.