If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia, chances are your case will end in a negotiated settlement. A settlement can be beneficial for both the plaintiff and the defendant. However, it can still take a long time to negotiate a settlement that you find acceptable. It is important to understand the negotiation process if you file a personal injury lawsuit.
Over 90% of personal injury cases are settled before they even get to a trial. This could happen before you even file a lawsuit, or it could come just before a jury renders a decision, or anywhere in between. As soon as you talk to your attorney, they may contact the individuals responsible for your injury and try and get you compensation before they even file court documents. If your attorney can negotiate a settlement for full compensation for your injuries, then you might not even have to file a lawsuit.
However, in most cases, your attorney will have to file a lawsuit before they can begin real negotiations for a settlement. After they file the court documents, and serve the defendants with your complaint, negotiations will continue between your attorney and the defendants until an acceptable settlement is reached.
In the beginning of your lawsuit, your attorney or the defendant's' attorney may not be able to fully estimate the outcome of your case. There may be a lot of information they need before they can determine how likely you are to win your case, and what a jury may award you for your injury. During the discovery phase of a trial, both parties exchange evidence, information, medical records, deposition testimony, and expert reports. This will allow your experienced attorney to better evaluate your case.
As information comes in that is helpful to your case, or harmful to the defendant's case, your attorney can take advantage of this information to negotiate a better settlement. Negotiations may go back and forth throughout the discovery process, and beyond. This can take months, or even years for a complex personal injury case. However, as the case gets closer to trial, the likelihood of negotiating an acceptable settlement offer also increases.
Just before trial begins, both sides will have all the information that they will use during the trial. This will give your attorney a good idea of how your case may go, and what type of award the jury may approve. With this information, they can negotiate for the best settlement possible in your case. However, the defendants may still not be willing to agree to a fair settlement, and your case may go to trial.
In a personal injury lawsuit, people can become frustrated that the process is taking too long. This is why it is important to maintain an open dialogue with your attorney. Your attorney should explain the negotiation process with you. Any time there is an important update in your case, or a fair settlement offer is made, your attorney should keep you informed. It is up to the client whether or not they want to accept a settlement or not. Your attorney cannot make that decision without your approval.
Court Settlement and Mediation
Before going to trial, your attorney should talk to you about what may happen with a jury trial, or a bench trial before a judge. Even if they have a good idea of how your case may go, juries can be very unpredictable. A jury may decide in favor of the defendant instead of the plaintiff for any kind of reason. This is one reason that a negotiated settlement can be a preferable option to a jury trial, for the plaintiff and the defendant.
Another reason a settlement may be a better option is that a trial can take a lot of time and a lot of money. Even if you and your attorney have a contingency agreement, a trial may greatly increase their court costs and expenses, which may reduce the overall amount of your award. After waiting months or years, you may also want to settle the matter instead of dragging it out further over a stressful trial. It is important for you and your attorney to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a settlement over a trial.
Once your case is ready for trial, the court may impose further negotiation or settlement requirements. In Pennsylvania, this may include alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation, arbitration or a neutral case evaluation. If these final negotiation options fail, the trial may begin.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
Most cases settle before going to trial through the negotiation process. It is important for you to understand how negotiations work so you can make an informed decision of whether or not to accept a settlement offer. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone's negligence, please do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.