You should sit down with your attorney, have a phone conference, or have the attorney send you a letter or e-mail summarizing the status of the case and the plan moving forward. Negotiating a settlement can happen at any time. The settlement will depend on the facts of the case including the liability or fault, the damages, and the insurance coverage. Since the attorney is probably on a contingency basis, the attorney will try to get as much as possible or practical. Remember that decisions as to settlement are yours. Talk to your attorney to find out more details and to get your questions answered.
As you already have representation, I highly suggest that you speak to the attorney that you have retained to help you through the process. It sounds as though your lawyer is going to go back to the defendant in an effort to obtain a higher offer. What happens next will depend on the offer when you weigh the risks and rewards of trial and collection issues (as you mentioned out of pocket) versus the offer to settle. Again, I urge you to speak with your lawyer on this matter.
Mr. Stone and Mr. Wolf are correct. One of the tasks of your lawyer when representing you for an injury claim is trying to negotiate a fair settlement for you. Your attorney is attempting to obtain the highest offer of settlelment the defendant is willing to present. I can not tell from your question whether this is a slip and fall or automobile accident case. I am not sure why the defendant is offering money out of pocket when hopefully there is a liablity insurance policy that might cover your claim. You should immediatley communicate with your lawyer to determine what value he or she places on the claim so that you and your attorney are in agreement about the negotiations..
General answers to legal questions such as this should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney in person to obtain legal advice.
I would suggest that you ask your lawyer to provide you with information about whether the at fault party, the defendant, has insurance coverage and if so, what are the defendant's insurance policy limits. This is important because the negotiation tactics are very different if there is no insurance. Next you will want to know whether the defendant has any assets that could be recovered to pay a judgment if you win in court. If not, a negotiated settlement may be all that you can get. A defendant without insurance or assets can just file bankruptcy or refuse to pay and you might not be able to collect a judgment in court.
If your case is an auto accident case, you will want your lawyer to determine whether you have any uninsured or undersinsured motorist coverage on your own policy that may be applicable and may provide a source for a financial recovery. If it is an auto accident case and the defendant has no insurance or not enough insurance your attorney will be negotiating with your own auto insurance carrier.
A negotiation of an injury claim involves a balancing of the benefit of receiving a certain but usually only partial compensation now versus accepting the risks and delay of litigation and the possiblity of the expenses of the case eating up much of your settlement or trial verdict many months or years later. Sometimes the settlement offer may be so low that is reasonable to wait and assume the risks of litigation. Almost all settlements are a compromise of some type with the defendant or insurance company feeling like they paid too much and the injured person accepting less that fair compensation.
You lawyer should be able to help guide you, negotiate for your, and make recommendations. However, the ultimate settlement decision is for you to make.
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