If you are injured in an auto accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entity that caused the crash. If a family member is killed in an accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. But the vast majority of these lawsuits never make it to trial; they are usually settled out of court in private agreements between the plaintiff and the defendant.
As a result, most plaintiffs in auto accident lawsuits are presented with a settlement offer at some point during the litigation process. This offer almost always consists of the defendant paying out a sum of money in exchange for the litigant agreeing to both drop the current lawsuit and to not sue the defendant again over this accident in the future. Therefore, the plaintiffs are faced with a question: should they accept the settlement offer?
The most important thing to keep in mind is not to make a snap decision on any settlement offer. Some plaintiffs may see a five- or six-figure (or even seven-figure) monetary amount and assume that they will be rich beyond belief. But in reality, much of the sum will go toward outstanding medical bills and related costs, and the rest probably won’t be enough to live on forever. On the other hand, other plaintiffs might turn up their noses at what they consider to be an inferior offer without thinking it through.
One big factor in deciding whether to take a settlement offer is the strength of the specific auto accident case. Sometimes, the blame for a given accident is pretty clear. Other times, the details and facts are murkier and could be construed to portray the defendant as not liable (or even to place some of the blame on the plaintiff). In short, the weaker the case, the more thought that should be given to accepting a potential settlement.
But there are other aspects of an auto accident case to consider, such as:
- the current financial situation of the plaintiff
- settlement amounts in previous auto accident cases of a similar nature
- how friendly a given jurisdiction is to auto accident plaintiffs
- whether a judge or jury will decide the case
- the biases and attitudes of the judge toward auto accident plaintiffs
- the potential jury pool and its members’ biases and attitudes toward auto accident plaintiffs
- the overall climate for auto accident cases and cash awards to plaintiffs
In the end, every plaintiff should rely heavily on the advice or expertise of his or her auto accident lawyer. These attorneys have a firm knowledge of the monetary value of these types of cases, the rules and biases surrounding these cases, and the likelihood of receiving a higher settlement offer in the future. That’s why it’s vital that you are represented by an experience attorney in your auto accident lawsuit.