In the forgettable game show Deal or No Deal, contestants picked numbers at random to win prizes. With a compelling setup like that, the program has to be a winner, right? As their odds for selecting the big prize alternatively rose and fell, the deal, or the financial incentive to make a settlement agreement, got better or worse.
Apropos of nothing, if you are ever a game show contestant, never take the toaster oven and quit. Always go for it all, because you have nothing to lose.
To an extent, Brainerd personal injury lawyers go through a similar process. Obviously, there is nothing random about your injury claim. Furthermore, your illness or injury is certainly not a game. But, the mindset is much the same. An out-of-court settlement is usually in everyone’s best interests. But with so many variables, it’s difficult to determine if the proffered settlement offer is fair or not.
Your Personal Injury Claims Process
The out-of-court settlement can occur at any time. But generally, Brainerd personal injury lawyers do not settle cases until they thoroughly investigate the facts and medical treatment is at least substantially complete. So, although every claim is different, most follow the same general outline.
Most Brainerd personal injury lawyers begin settlement negotiations very early. Sometimes, if liability is fairly clear, these efforts bear fruit. But more often than not, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer must file a legal claim for damages. That filing puts additional pressure on the insurance company to settle the claim on victim-friendly terms.
Rather than resolve the case, most insurance companies file a series of procedural motions. These motions are designed to weed out meritless cases. So, they are hardly ever successful. But that lack of success does not prevent the insurance company from filing them.
Next, the case moves to the discovery process. The parties exchange information about their claims and defenses. Discovery gives Brainerd personal injury lawyers more information about the claim as the legal process enters the home stretch.
How Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers Determine Settlement Value
Calculating a settlement value may be the most important component of this process. This value serves as s starting point for settlement negotiations as well as a guiding light for victim/plaintiffs.
Part of the settlement value includes money for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other economic losses. This calculation is normally, but not always rather simple. For example, the family car often has an emotional value which may exceed its economic value. The same is true for family pets that die in car crashes, although Minnesota law is a bit more limiting in this area.
In most cases, noneconomic losses make up the bulk of a settlement. This money compensates the victim/plaintiff for things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
Typically, Brainerd personal injury lawyers use a multiplier to determine the noneconomic portion of the settlement value. Depending on the factors discussed below, that multiplier is generally three, but it could be higher or lower.
To Settle or Not to Settle?
Most settlement offers include liability waivers. When victims sign the paperwork, they give up all future claims. So, it’s important that the settlement be fair and properly timed. Some factors to consider include:
- Strength of Evidence: Civil court cases have a rather low burden of proof. But the burden of persuasion is a little different. Generally, there’s a direct connection between the strength of the victim/plaintiff’s evidence and the amount of money a Crow Wing County jury awards.
- Insurance Company Defenses: Contributory negligence, last clear chance, and other insurance company defenses may not be successful. But they do increase the risk of going to trial, and that risk is something to consider.
- Legal Environment: Some judges are known for pro-victim legal rulings, and others are known for pro-insurance company rulings. Moreover, some counties are more conservative than other counties. POlitically conservative jurors often sympathize with victims.
Typically, the portion of a personal injury settlement related to physical injuries is not taxable. So, if the jury awards punitive damages, the IRS may claim a piece of that money.
Count on Aggressive Attorneys
Settling a personal injury case is a delicate process. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.