You can file a personal injury lawsuit in Delaware when you are hurt or harmed by an accident or other incident caused by another person. While many such lawsuits go to trial, lawyers on both sides usually try to reach a settlement first. Settlements can often resolve cases more quickly and offer other benefits to the plaintiff, or the person who filed the lawsuit.
You have until three years after the accident to file a personal injury case in Delaware. What is the settlement process after an injury? Understanding the steps can help you stay informed and ask the right questions as your lawyer negotiates on your behalf.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement occurs when the plaintiff and defendant agree that the defendant pays a certain amount in return for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit. Once a settlement has been reached, the two sides do not proceed to trial. Sometimes an insurance company will make the payment and not an individual defendant.
You shouldn’t accept any settlement without conferring with a lawyer who can advise you on whether the offer is fair. A lawyer can steer you in the right direction. They have handled cases similar to yours before and gained valuable insights from that experience. They will know when an offer is too low. A good lawyer will advise you not just on how much money to accept but also how to navigate the often-trying settlement process.
When Would a Settlement Offer Be Made?
Settlements can be reached before or after a trial begins. Often the defendant offers a settlement immediately after the injury occurs in an attempt to deter the injured party from filing a lawsuit. Usually, this settlement offer is well below what a plaintiff would receive from a trial. The defendant’s lawyer will count on your legal inexperience to try to convince you to take a low offer. Defendants want to walk away from a case paying the least amount they can.
Before accepting a settlement, you should also know the answers to these questions:
- How long will the injury take to heal?
- Will there be lifelong consequences from the injury?
- Has a physician provided a medical diagnosis?
What Are the Steps if a Settlement Is Reached?
It takes time to reach a settlement both sides agree upon, including several rounds of negotiations. Though every case is different, the injury settlement process in Delaware usually happens like this:
- The plaintiff submits a demand for compensation outlining the incident and injury. The letter includes a monetary sum the plaintiff would accept in return for dropping the case.
- The defense replies with a counter-offer, often much lower than the plaintiff’s initial offer.
- The two sides go back and forth for several rounds, making different offers.
- If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, they may bring in a mediator. The mediator will act as a neutral go-between, negotiating terms both sides can agree to.
Once both parties reach an agreement, the defendant or their insurance company will give the plaintiff a settlement check for the agreed-upon amount. The plaintiff signs a release pledging they will not make another claim against the defendant regarding this incident in exchange for the money.
A lawyer will also handle the complex legal matters associated with a settlement. They can facilitate getting your money on time. They will also make sure to file all the paperwork correctly so you don’t have to worry about your settlement being overturned on a technicality. Lawyers provide the peace of mind you need after your accident, which added so many complications to your life.
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What if a Settlement Is Rejected?
While negotiations can result in a settlement, sometimes one or both sides refuse to agree to a settlement. When the personal injury settlement process fails, the two sides either proceed to trial or continue with their trial, if it had already started. In a jury trial, the jury will decide whether the defendant should pay the plaintiff and how much. Once a verdict has been reached, the two sides can no longer enter a settlement. The judgment is binding.
Settlements can be rejected by both sides for many reasons. The defendant may think they can win the case, or the plaintiff may not be happy with the amount offered by the defendant. The strength of the case also plays into the decision.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for Settlement?
Using a personal injury lawyer to negotiate your settlement is the best way to get your desired outcome. Everything that happens after an accident presents a challenge. From healing to paying your medical bills to working through the trauma of your injury, you have many things happening at once, and it can be challenging to keep up with them all. An attorney can help you with the legal aspects of your case that you may not be as familiar with.
Insurance companies push for the lowest settlements, often paying out way less than the affected party deserves. Unless you have been involved in such a case before, you can’t understand how much you should demand for your accident. That’s why it’s so important to turn to an expert.
Contact Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya to Discuss the Personal Injury Settlement Process
Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya has assisted many people throughout Delaware with personal injury lawsuit settlements. Our experienced team knows the best way to negotiate in these cases, and we want to ensure you are compensated fairly for your pain and suffering.
We offer personalized service you will appreciate. Our attorneys take the time to listen to you and learn about your case. We tailor our services to your needs and develop strategies based on your unique circumstances. When we enter settlement negotiations, we keep your best interests in mind throughout the process. Our only goal is to walk away with the best possible outcome for you.
Get in touch with us today to discuss your personal injury case and talk about the settlement process. We look forward to learning how we can help.