Why Does My Lawyer Want to Settle My Case?
For some reason, many people associate “settlement” with another word that begins with “s.” No, we’re not talking about the four-letter word that also begins with that letter. Instead, we mean “surrender.” Maybe that’s because people believe “settling a case” is the same thing as “settling for less.”
As many as 95 percent of injury cases settle before trial. Usually, these resolutions are good things. Since they end cases sooner, victims get their settlement checks sooner. Additionally, following a trial, a judge or jury usually dictates all terms. Settlement negotiations give victims more control over the outcome.
Early settlements, however, are usually bad things. The best evidence, and therefore maximum compensation, usually isn’t available until later in the process. So, an early settlement is indeed like surrendering, or more precisely, an early settlement is taking the easy way out.
So, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney wants to settle your case relatively late in the process because that’s usually what’s best for victims. These settlements usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Some claims settle early. In fact, some settle before a Los Angeles personal injury attorney files legal paperwork.
The insurance company’s general posture is important. Many insurance companies, especially small ones, must hire outside lawyers to defend claims. Lots of insurance defense lawyers charge over $1,000 an hour. So, instead of paying that money, the insurance company would rather settle the claim quickly.
Other companies, especially large ones, have in-house lawyers. It costs the company the same amount of money to settle a claim quickly as it does to contest the matter. Since it’s all the same in terms of financial expenses, these companies often fight claims tooth and nail.
The facts of the case are even more important. Sometimes, issues like the extent of damage and legal responsibility are so clear that California’s forty-day clock applies. If the insurance company drags its feet, the victim could be entitled to triple damages, because of the company’s bad faith.
Very few cases are clearly one sided and very few insurance companies roll over and play dead. So, to jumpstart stalled negotiations, attorneys usually file lawsuits. This move also preserves the victim/plaintiff’s legal rights.
The longer the legal process takes, the more likely settlement becomes. For example, at first, insurance company lawyers often file long-shot procedural motions. Once the judge denies these motions, or gives the victim/plaintiff a chance to correct a defect, meaningful settlement negotiations usually begin.
Once medical treatment and discovery are at least substantially complete, negotiations often kick into high gear.
An attorney must know how much money the settlement should include for future medical expenses. If the settlement doesn’t fully account for them, victims are financially responsible for payment. Discovery is an evidence exchange process, which as mentioned, gives victims access to damaging evidence the insurance company has kept hidden.
Overall, informal settlement negotiations are a little like new car purchase negotiations. There’s some give and take, as well as some “let me talk to my manager” delays. Vehicle purchase negotiations might take a few hours. Injury claim negotiations take a lot longer, because the issues are much more complex and there’s a lot more money at stake.
Informal settlement negotiations usually bear fruit. If they don’t, most SoCal judges appoint third party mediators to oversee the process.
Mediation, which is a court-supervised settlement negotiation session, usually lasts a full day in an informal setting. After each side makes a brief opening statement, the mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers back and forth. Eventually, through a combination of threatening, promising, and cajoling, the two sides usually reach an agreement.
No matter when a case settles, it’s important to get everything right. It is almost impossible to reopen a closed case.Vehicle collisions usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim & Sharona Hakim, Attorneys. You have a limited amount of time to act.
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Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.