Should I Settle My Car Accident Injury Claim Or Go To Court? | Boston Car Accident Lawyer


Car accident injury claim. Should I settle or go to court? Hi, I’m Attorney John Sheehan. Since 1993, I’ve represented thousands of injured workers and car accident victims throughout Massachusetts. Let me answer that question, whether you should settle or go to court as many lawyers answer questions.

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It all depends, it truly does. First of all, you have to look at how much available coverage is there. How much coverage does the at fault or negligent driver have in their insurance policy.

If it’s only what we call a 2040 policy that means that the most that’s available is $20,000. And the insurance adjuster is offering the full policy limits and the defendant doesn’t have any assets available that would pay you compensation not covered by his car insurance policy.

Then you absolutely should settle and not go to court because there’s nothing you can get from that defendant.

The defendant is what we call judgment proof. The other thing you need to look at is the strength of the case. Let me explain that in any personal injury case resulting from a car accident there’s two parts to the case: liability and damages. Liability in a car accident case has to do with negligence.

Who is at fault? Whose fault caused the accident? Whose negligence caused the accident? So you look at what the strengths are to prove that the accident was caused by the other driver. Damages is the second part of the case.

Damages include both economic and noneconomic damages. They’re also referred to as special damages and general damages. Economic and special damages are easy, those are the things that you can add up. They’re quantifiable, things like your medical bills, lost wages. You can just add them up, see what they are.

You have the documentation to prove the amount.

And those are your special economic damages. General damages would include pain, suffering, loss of impairment that’s been documented by either your treating doctor or another doctor that’s evaluated you and maybe loss of enjoyment of life. Loss of things that used to do maybe you were very physically active and you were involved in sports and now you can’t play sports. In deciding whether or not you should settle a go to court, one thing you need to consider is how far apart you attorney is and the insurance adjuster is with the settlement negotiations.

If you’re far apart then you might have to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit does not mean that you’re not gonna continue to negotiate. In oftentimes when you file a lawsuit the claim would be assigned to another adjuster who is more experience. And usually one of the first things a new adjuster will do is to try and go back and revisit with the personal injury lawyer to see if this chance to resurrect settlement negotiate and maybe lo and behold, there’s more settlement authority available more money to offer that the other adjuster was holding back.

The other thing to consider whether or not to settle a go to court, alternatives to go into court, alternatives to go into trial, alternative dispute resolution.

And that could include arbitration. It could include a high law arbitration where you do an arbitration but your attorney and the insurance company agree on a maximum and minimum amount that you’ll receive depending on what happens at the arbitration. So you’re at least guaranteed a minimum and the insurance company has some protection. As far as the maximum they’d have to pay. Another popular type of alternative dispute resolution that I’m a big fan of is mediation.

Mediation is basically a settlement conference with a professional mediator either an attorney with a lot of experience, a lot of years of experience handling car accident, personal injury cases, perhaps on behalf of insurance companies or perhaps representing car accident victims, or has done both or also many times mediators can be retired judges who have sat on trials, who sat on the bench, who have seen litigants present their case, have seen what judges do and can offer that perspective to the parties, offer that perspective to the accident victim; the plaintiff to be able to assist them to reach the best decision at a mediation as far as settling a case.

Another thing you need to look at is, are there any problems with the claim? Is there any preexisting injuries or medical conditions that the insurance company would point to in saying that that wasn’t caused by the car accident, or if the medical records do show that there was some worsening of the preexisting condition or preexisting injury that a certain point in time, the plaintiff returned back to the same position they were in before the car accident. Another thing to consider apart from prior accidents or injuries, are there other previous medical conditions or degenerative conditions such as arthritis or degenerative changes and the discs of the back, if it’s a back injury case that could put into question what’s related to the car accident or what did the person have that preexisted the car accident? And finally, another consideration of potential problem in considering whether or not to settle or go to court, is does the plaintiff have a history of a prior claims, prior car accident claims.

If they have a history of prior personal injury car accident claims then there’s a risk that is gonna get into evidence at trial and could affect the outcome of the trial. One of the other benefits of settling a car accident personal injury case is that you control the outcome. You know exactly what you’re gonna get rather than going to trial and it’s a gamble. Plus if there are any healthcare liens, MassHealth liens, Medicare liens, perhaps there might be a short term or long term disability lien. With settlement your attorney has the ability to try and negotiate the best terms possible for you as far as reimbursing any lien for MassHealth, for child support, for short term disability things like that, that you wouldn’t be able to do if you went to trial.

You also have to consider the risks of going to trial. Again, it’s a big unknown, you could lose, you could get less money than what’s being offered.

There were more expenses much more expenses involved with going to trial for things like depositions, medical experts who might have to testify either via video deposition or in live testimony in court, that costs money. Also think about the delay. You could wait up to two, three, or more years to have your day in court, to have a trial date.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Massachusets and you’d like to talk about your case with me directly, feel free to call or text me at the number below. And if you’d like to watch my future videos, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. (gentle music).

Read More: When should I get an attorney for a car accident?- Personal Injury Lawyer answers your questions.

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