After sustaining injury in a motor vehicle accident through no fault of your own, you may be faced with many different new and unfamiliar issues. Achieving a recovery that properly compensates you for your losses, can be a drawn-out, lengthy process, if the only route was through litigation. However, the use of settlements has steadily risen in personal injury actions, and you may be able to resolve your dispute quickly, and conveniently through the use of a settlement between yourself and the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
A settlement is a formal, final, and written resolution of a dispute between two or more parties without the use of typical judicial intervention through hearings or a trial. Although this sounds complicated, the reality is that settlements are significantly less complicated than the lengthy and costly alternative of pursuing litigation.
Settlements are considered voluntary, in that the parties mutually agree to resolve the controversy outside of court, for a defined sum of money to the plaintiff. The settlement will also require the plaintiff to sign a release of liability. While settlements can happen at any time, timing is still an important aspect for the both the defendant and the plaintiff. Regardless of the timing, both parties involved in a settlement will seek to reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances as they view them. Put into simpler terms, the plaintiff, or injured party, will be seeking the highest amount possible to settle, while the defendant’s interests are directly opposite, in that they seek to settle for the least amount possible.
A significant majority of compensable personal injury claims settle outside of the courtroom, and there are many reasons supporting this statistic. The basic reasoning for why most personal injury claims settle out of court is due to the fact that settlements occur much faster than trials, are less expensive, and involve significantly less risks for both parties. Some of the typical issues which arise in trials, which can be avoided through the use of a negotiated settlement, include: higher attorneys’ fees; expert witness fees; administrative and filing costs; and the added stresses of enduring litigation
If you have been injured in a car accident in North Carolina, you have the right to seek redress through trial by a jury of your peers. Most people understand how complicated trials and court proceedings can be, so people typically hire an attorney to represent them. This representation is usually provided on a contingency fee basis. While there are other types of attorney fee structures, contingency fee agreements are the most common for personal injury cases. Many attorneys practicing in personal injury structure their contingency fees as one-third (33.33%) of any pre-trial settlement amount, however, the fee increases to forty (40%) percent of all sums if the matter has to be litigated. This means that if you file a lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer may receive forty (40%) percent of all sums recovered. Therefore, depending upon the circumstances of your case, it may be in the best interest of the injured person to resolve their dispute through the use of a negotiated settlement.
Significant expenses which could arise if you have to litigate your motor vehicle accident claim, are the costs associated with having expert witnesses review and testify on your behalf. No matter if the expert is a physician, surgeon, economist, or engineer, those witnesses often charge a hefty fee to review your single case file and appear in court.
Additionally, administrative expenses, including transcriptions, copying, couriers, postage, and filing costs can add up quickly. Most lawsuits involve hundred, if not thousands, of pages of documents, such as deposition transcripts, medical records, bills, pleadings, and court orders. All of these items can be associated with some kind of administrative expense that will accrue over the life of your case.
Finally, if you are weighing the costs and benefits of litigating your personal injury claim versus settling out of court, you must consider the amount of time, attention, and ultimately, stress, that will be required should you decide to pursue litigation. It is not uncommon for personal injury claims to take two years to resolve, this is not even taking into account the possibility that the case may be appealed and extend an additional year or two. As such, negotiating a settlement for your injuries without the filing of a lawsuit is generally a much faster than drafting, filing, and litigating your claims before the court.