It can be difficult knowing what to do after you've been injured. Likely, once the party you believe is at fault knows you are talking to an attorney, you may suddenly feel pressure to settle your case out of court. But what does that mean?
Settlement is when both parties make a mutually beneficial agreement, generally under the circumstances that no one admits fault and that the plaintiff drops the lawsuit. The alternative to settlement in a case is going to court for either summary judgment or a jury trial. Summary judgment consists of a single judge hearing the facts and making a decision, and a jury trial is heard by a jury of peers.
Every personal injury case is different and has different sets of pros and cons when it comes to going to court versus settling. But before you allow an insurance company or family and friends sway you one way or the other, consider these important factors.
- The facts of your case. The facts of your particular case are very important to deciding whether or not to settle. Are the facts in your favor? Do you have all the information? What insurance company are you dealing with? What is their record on paying out claims? What is your liability if you lose the case?
- The outcome of similar cases. Also important is looking at cases with similar circumstances to yours. What was the outcome when these cases went to trial? How many were settled in favor of the plaintiff? What was the average payout? From here you can get an idea of the odds of a trial victory or settlement. Keep in mind that highly publicized cases are anomalies, and although they may get a lot of attention and coverage, the results differ greatly from the usual outcomes.
- Your financial needs. Often, the first offer from an insurance company is not going to be their best offer. But if you have mounting medical bills, the offer is a good one and will cover your expenses, it may be wise to take it rather than going into debt and taking a chance on a better outcome at trial. Your financial situation both now and in the future is a huge factor, and you should talk with your attorney about the cost/benefit analysis of a variety of outcomes. Having an acute injury that will get better as time passes creates a much different financial need than having a long-term disability or condition that will worsen over time.
Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn can help you with all kinds of medical malpractice claims in West Virginia. If you or a loved one has been injured and is seeking a qualified personal injury attorney, contact our Huntington, West Virginia office to speak with an attorney about your case, or call 304-523-8451.