The vast majority of personal injury cases, over 90 percent in some jurisdictions, settle before trial. But this statistic only tells part of the story.
A few cases settle right away. A good illustration is a tortfeasor (negligent driver) who makes a rolling right turn at a red light and knocks down a pedestrian in the crosswalk, causing broken bones. Additionally, the tortfeasor’s insurance company likes to settle claims quickly and get them over with.
A few other cases settle at the eleventh hour. Most insurance companies fight personal injury claims tooth and nail. Such a company may be prepared to go to trial over an issue like contributory negligence. But the company’s lawyers do not like the jury makeup, so they settle the claim.
As one might expect, most cases fall between these two extremes. Regardless of when the case settles, Fort Worth personal injury attorneys usually follow the same procedure.
Once medical treatment is substantially complete, most attorneys send demand letters to insurance companies. These letters demand a certain sum of money in exchange for a waiver of liability.
The demand amount includes both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include things like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Noneconomic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and emotional distress.
Typically, the insurance company responds with a lower counteroffer. If the two parties are in the same ballpark, the case may get resolved without filing court papers. But if the two sides are far apart, most cases proceed to the next level.
Pretrial and Discovery
During the pretrial phase, insurance company lawyers often file legal motions to either erode the victim/plaintiff’s case or get the matter thrown out of court altogether. If these motions fail, as they usually do, the insurance company is more willing to negotiate.
The discovery phase is the information-gathering portion of a legal claim. This exchange usually includes document requests, oral depositions, and other things. As the victim/plaintiff’s case comes into sharper focus, especially with regard to compelling witnesses who tell favorable stories, many insurance companies back off from their tough pretrial stances.
If the case still does not settle, most Tarrant County judges refer these matters to mediation. This forum is often successful, even if the parties are still far apart in terms of a settlement amount.
A neutral mediator goes between the two sides, conveying settlement offers and counteroffers. The mediator is also a case evaluator. This person, who is usually an unaffiliated personal injury lawyer, gives honest feedback about the strength of a party’s claims or defenses. This feedback often helps insurance companies see the light.
Most car crash claims follow the same procedural outline. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.