Not all personal injury cases are settled through litigation and hiring an attorney does not automatically mean that you will have to go to trial. In fact, many cases are resolved early on. Still, when an insurance company fails to provide you with fair and just settlement, you and your attorney may seek other recourse.
Insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible when resolving an injury claim. When an individual pursues compensation from an insurance company without the aid of an attorney, the insurance company may see the lack of representation as an opportunity to low ball the injured victim as there is no immediate risk of trial or legal recourse.
Hiring a competent attorney who has a reputation of achieving large verdicts in the courtroom changes the way insurance companies view you and your claim. It will provide the insurance company with extra incentive to offer a fair settlement the first time, and if that first offer is not fair, an experienced personal attorney will have the resources and the knowledge to negotiate with the insurance company in pursuit of a better offer.
The truth is that the vast majority of personal injury cases taken by attorneys are settled before or during trial. This is because resolving a claim outside of court is often quicker and less expensive than trying a case to verdict and is generally less risky for both the plaintiff and defendant.
When settlement discussions begin often depends on the size and complexity of a case. Larger cases may progress further before negotiations begin as neither side wants to appear overeager or desperate to resolve a matter.
Once a personal injury lawsuit has been filed, both your attorney and the defenses attorney will begin pretrial investigations. This is known as the discovery process. During discovery, attorneys will begin gathering evidence and may solicit written answers from the opposition, known as interrogatories, or request sworn testimony under oath, known as depositions. It is rare for insurance companies to engage in serious settlement negotiations before completing the discovery process.
In larger, more complex cases, such as lawsuits dealing with on the job injuries or commercial trucking accidents, defense attorneys may wait for the plaintiff’s attorney to identify their expert witnesses before discussing settlement amounts. This is because expert witnesses can make or break a case. If a personal injury attorney is able to obtain expert witnesses who are knowledgeable and capable of providing compelling testimony, chances are the attorney has done the work necessary to make a valid case during trial.
In other cases, the defense attorney will not want to settle a case until they have filed a motion for summary judgment, also known as a motion to dismiss the case. If the court grants the motion to dismiss, it means the case is over; however, if the court denies the motion, a good personal injury attorney will see this as a potential point of leverage in future negotiations.
Another common way to resolve a personal injury case outside of court is through arbitration. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which the plaintiff and defendant agree to be bound by a decision handed down by impartial adjudicators called arbitrators.
Unlike litigation, where parties are assigned a judge, arbitration allows parties to choose their own tribunal and is often faster than an in-court trial. Additionally, defendants may seek an arbitral proceeding as arbitral awards are generally non-public and can be made confidential if both parties agree to it.
Other times, arbitral proceedings may be required as part of an ancillary agreement. That is, the fine print of a consumer on employee agreement states that they have agreed to mandatory binding pre-dispute arbitration by purchasing a product or taking a job. If arbitration is mandatory and binding, it means the parties have waived their rights to have a judge or jury decide their case.
In some cases, insurance companies will simply refuse to offer a fair settlement. This is when you need a competent trial attorney.
Thomas J. Henry has more than 25 years of litigation experience, has tried numerous cases to resolution and has obtained multiple record-breaking verdicts. This is because Thomas J. Henry understands the importance of being ready and willing to go to trial and prepares every case as if it will be heard before a judge or jury.
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys is a personal injury law firm with offices in Corpus Christi, Texas, San Antonio, Texas and Houston, Texas representing accident victims nationwide. Our priority is to provide our clients with the best legal representation. Our experienced trial attorneys are committed to defending your rights in personal injury matters including defective products, recalled drugs, child injuries, and auto accidents.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact our offices immediately – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.