Every personal injury case is unique. The parties involved have their own personalities with needs and flaws. The circumstances of the accident are unique and must be analyzed to determine who is at fault and how grave the injuries are.
However, every personal injury case shares characteristics with other cases. As the injured party, you are entitled to compensation. Typically, this compensation is negotiated through a settlement with an insurance company.
At The Gilbert Law Firm, we consider it our duty and our honor to help you obtain this compensation. If you hire us, we work with you to develop a strategy for getting you on the road to recovery. From our team of Washington personal injury attorneys, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re offered a settlement in your case.
1. Do I Have the Right Lawyer?
Do not hire the first lawyer you see on an advertising billboard or TV commercial. Many of these mass-advertising law firms follow a quantity-over-quality practice approach.
These firms take in a case and move it through their assembly line of case managers to optimize the firm’s financial return as fast as possible. These firms are known as “volumen practices” or “puppy mills” in the legal field. They take on as many cases as they can get and often settle cases for pennies on the dollar to get it done quickly and efficiently for their firm – not caring at all about the client.
Obviously, this is NOT the right lawyer for you unless you don’t care about quality of representation, maximizing the value of your claims, and obtaining full justice in your case.
You should also make sure that your lawyer has experience trying cases. There are thousands of lawyers out there who have never tried a case. Insurance companies have no respect for these lawyers; and no fear of them.
This negatively impacts your settlement value. You want a lawyer with proven trial experience at a firm that is devoted 100% to their clients’ best interests. Our team at The Gilbert Law Firm is well known for record jury verdicts and settlements. We will fight the insurance company for the last penny in the pot.
If the lawyer you’ve hired does not seem to be this sort, then take the time to find the right legal representation for you.
2. Are the Negotiations Over?
An insurance company is not your friend. They are a business. You are just a number to them. Their job is to pay you as little as possible on a claim – and they have no conscience. You will no doubt receive an offer to settle at the beginning of the negotiating process.
This offer will be insulting to most people. Unless you are in desperate need of funds, you will not accept this offer. If your lawyer tries to get you to accept this offer, you need a different lawyer.
3. Have I Been Heard?
It may seem like a minor issue, but being able to tell your side of the story in any serious conflict helps with closure. It makes you feel heard and respected. Are your lawyers LISTENING to you?
Is the insurance company taking you seriously? Are you truly being heard? If you feel that this is not the case, you have probably hired the wrong lawyers.
Ask yourself whether the settlement offer reflects all of the related past and future medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and wage loss. Does it consider all of the mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life you have suffered as a result of the crash? Does it feel like the insurance company cares about your injuries or damages? Does it feel like they respect you and your legal team?
If not, then you may feel that the fight needs to continue on—in court if necessary—until the other side understands your point of view.
4. Is This the Value of my Injuries and Damages?
If the other party has made you an offer, you are probably wondering if their offer is too low. Your lawyer should go over all of this with you, and help you decide what is a good number for your case. A good lawyer will never tell a client they should or should not resolve a case.
Their job is to educate you on the risks and benefits of moving forward versus resolving a case. A lawyer who tells you they will get you a certain amount of money for your case before they ever work the case up should be avoided. Just as a lawyer who tells you that you should or should not accept a settlement offer should be avoided.
A good lawyer will prepare your case and educate you on the valuation of the claim. They will walk through a settlement offer with you and educate you on the value compared with the representative damages at issue – eg.: medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
They will advise you of the risks of trial, and related litigation costs you may be responsible for moving forward. After you have been adequately educated on all areas involved, your lawyer will ask you what you want to do. This is your decision – not the lawyer’s.
If you believe that their offer is sufficient to cover your past damages and protect your future, only then should you seriously consider taking their offer. To be safe, you should always consult with a Washington personal injury attorney before you make such an important decision.
5. Should I Go to Trial?
In some cases it is simple: if the insurance company refuses to recognize the value of your claims and maintains a lowball offer throughout the process, trial is an easy decision.
As with settlement, the decision to go to trial should always be yours. As with settlement, a good lawyer will educate you on all the risks and benefits of trying your case.
6. What Does My Future Look Like?
Many people injured in a serious accident ignore the long-term impact of their injuries. You are entitled to recover monetary damages for future wage loss, medical treatment costs, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental anguish.
These numbers can be very large in injury cases. Ignoring these future damages, or undervaluing them, can be detrimental to your future. Working with an experienced Washington personal injury lawyer will ensure that future damages are fully assessed and included in any settlement of your claims.
Contact our Spokane-Based Personal Injury Attorney Team
The lawyers at The Gilbert Law Firm have been the firm of choice for Washington families who want just compensation for auto accidents and traumatic brain injuries for over 20 years.
With a reputation for unparalleled dedication to their clients, and record jury verdicts and settlements, The Gilbert Law Firm is the right team for your personal injury case. To speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact the Gilbert Law Firm today.
Disclaimer: The blog published by the Gilbert Law Firm marketing team for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. Readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.