Many people decide not to pursue a legal claim after a personal injury because they are intimidated by the legal process. Courtroom trials are often portrayed as dramatic events and, in addition, litigation is often associated with costly attorney fees. However, what such injured individuals do not realize is that not every injured victim has to go to trial to receive compensation for their personal injuries. In fact, the large majority of cases are able to settle their case outside of a courtroom with less stress and less expense than trial would require. The following is some additional information about ways that personal injury cases can be settled without heading into court.
After an accident, the injured party can first file an insurance claim to try to obtain adequate compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other injury-related losses. In car accident cases, an injured driver must file a claim with their own insurance policy whether or not they caused the accident due to Florida’s laws setting out no-fault insurance. However, in other types of personal injury cases, such as slip and falls or medical malpractice, an injured victim may file a claim with a property insurer or malpractice insurer to try to recover.
If fault is not disputed in the case, an insurance company may make a settlement offer that is sufficient to cover the victim’s losses. Even if the initial settlement offer is inadequate, an experienced attorney can help a victim negotiate with the insurance company and prove that they deserve the full amount of their claim due to their losses. This can often be successful, especially in cases involving relatively minor injuries.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods
If an insurance company will not make an offer that is adequate or if a victim has suffered extensive non-economic losses, it will likely be necessary to file a legal claim with the court. Simply filing a claim does not mean that a case will go to trial, however, as there are many steps in the litigation process before a trial will happen.
Many parties use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to try to reach a mutually agreeable and favorable settlement arrangement. These ADR methods can include:
- Mediation; and/or
In many cases, at least one of these methods will be successful, thereby ending the case before a victim has to plead their case in court. Settlement negotiations can continue right up to the point of trial and an attorney can keep presenting evidence and arguments to demonstrate that the victim’s case is strong. In such situations, many parties choose to agree to settle the case as they do not want to risk the uncertain outcome of trial. Settlement will instead allow parties to have more control over the outcome of the case than if a jury of their peers was making the decision for them. For these reasons and more, most personal injury victims do not have to go to court in order to receive a settlement for their losses.