The vast majority of lawsuits brought to court never make it to trial.  Personal injury cases involving cars, trucks or motorcycles are no different.  In some ways these cases are a lot easier to settle than other types of civil litigation, because these defendants are often represented by insurance companies who usually want to settle the case as quickly as possible.  In many instances, these types of claims have the ability to settle prior to the filing of a lawsuit.  When deciding whether to settle or proceed with a lawsuit, you should take into consideration the numerous costs of trial, which will reduce the amount you receive if you win your case.  Expenses include the filing fee for the lawsuit, the cost of finding and serving the defendant, the costs of taking depositions, fees for obtaining medical records and hiring an expert.

However, you also need to take into account the possibility of future medical expenses when deciding on settling.  A quick settlement may be very tempting if you are short on cash.  However, an early settlement could also prove to be a disadvantage to you in the long run if you discover after settlement that your injuries are more serious than you initially thought and require more medical treatment.  Insurance companies are well aware that you only have one chance to settle and you could leave a lot of money on the table through an early settlement.  You cannot renegotiate if your circumstances change.  Hiring an Attorney can help you navigate the pros and cons of settling your case prior to trial.

Ideally, the settlement amount for a personal injury case should compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.  If you are married at the time of the accident, your spouse also has a claim for their loss of consortium (i.e. loss of companionship, support, affection or services).  Having an Attorney will help to make sure you are fully compensated for all your losses and maximize your settlement amount.

Another thing to consider when deciding to settle is other parties’ right of reimbursement.  Depending on how you paid your medical bills, you may have to reimburse certain providers after settlement.  Medicare and Medicaid are both entitled to receive from your settlement a portion of the medical expenses that they paid on your behalf.  Consulting an attorney may help you reduce the amount you will have to reimburse.  For example, Medicare will often seek reimbursement of fees that are not related to injuries you received through your motor vehicle accident, and an Attorney will help you dispute those charges with Medicare.

Your health insurance company could also seek reimbursement for bills that it paid on your behalf and the rules for reimbursement can differ depending on whether or not your plan is governed by federal or state law.  An Attorney will help you determine which law applies and also give you advice on how to reduce the amount you need to pay back to your insurer.  Ultimately, it is your decision when to settle a case or proceed to trial, but hiring an Attorney will help you to avoid many pitfalls which reduce the amount of money you put into your pocket.

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© Ron Reemsnyder 2018.


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