Most people don't interact with lawyers on a regular basis. Because of this, some people are unclear what the lawyer does for their client, and what the lawyer cannot do. When it comes to hiring a personal injury attorney, it is important to understand that the client is the one who gets to decide whether or not to accept a settlement offer. The lawyer doesn't have the power to accept a settlement unless you approve.
Settling Your Philadelphia Personal Injury Case
If you are considering filing a lawsuit after an injury, you may not even be thinking about a settlement offer. However, the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before they ever go to trial. Over 90% of these cases end in a settlement agreement between the plaintiff and the defendants.
There are a number of reasons why most personal injury lawsuits settle before they make it to trial. In most cases, a settlement can be beneficial to both the plaintiff and the defendants. A fair settlement settlement offer can save both the plaintiff and the defendants time and money. However, it is important to remember that it is still up to you, the client, to decide whether or not you want to accept a settlement offer.
At the beginning of your case, your attorney may be working with limited information. They have heard you tell your story, looked at your medical records, and understand how the injury has affected your life. However, at the initial stages, your attorney generally does not have the defendant's version of what happened. This is why they need to file a lawsuit, to gain access to the defendant's records, and get the defendant's testimony as to what occurred.
The discovery phase of litigation involves the exchange of documents, evidence, testimony, reports, and answers to individual questions. This begins after the initial filing of the lawsuit, but can take a long time to complete. Depending on the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and how resistant the defendants are acting, the discovery stage can last months, or even years. However, once the discovery phase is complete, both your attorney and the defendants will have a much better idea of how your case may proceed.
Settlement negotiations can take place before any lawsuit is filed, all the way up until a jury renders their decision. However, shortly before trial is when the parties get serious about offering a fair settlement to avoid going to trial. The problem with going to trial is that it takes a lot of time, it costs a lot of money, and jury decisions can be very unpredictable.
It is important to keep an open dialogue with your attorney throughout the litigation process. This will help you evaluate whether or not you want to accept a settlement, or try and take the case to trial. When both parties agree on a settlement, you will be guaranteed to get some level of compensation. With a jury trial, you risk walking away with nothing.
Accepting a Settlement Offer
Under the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, “a lawyer shall abide by a client's decision whether to settle a matter.” Your attorney can advise you of what they recommend, including whether to accept a settlement, what they believe is a fair settlement amount, or when to counter a settlement offer, but they cannot settle your case without your approval.
Personal injury attorneys are very experienced at negotiating settlements. After years of experience representing clients in personal injury matters, they often have a very good idea of what the likely settlement offer may be. It is their responsibility to advocate for your best interests. Make sure you communicate with your attorney what you expect from a settlement offer. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your case will also help you understand when you should or should not accept a settlement offer.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
At Gilman and Bedigian, we believe in taking a collaborative approach to each personal injury case. Our clients gets the individualized attention of our entire team. We believe in taking the time to thoroughly discuss any and every matter which may be important to you and your case. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury, let us work for you to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our experienced team today for a free consultation.