Should You Settle Your Personal Injury Claim or File a Lawsuit?
If you are ever involved in a personal injury case, figuring out if you should file a lawsuit against the other parties or settle through a personal injury claim can be complicated. At Long & Jean, P.A., we’ve created a legal guide to help you find the right answer for your situation.
Understand the DifferencesBefore you can even start considering which one to choose, you need to understand the differences between a personal injury lawsuit and a claim.
A personal injury claim happens between you and the insurance company of the at-fault party before any lawsuit is even considered. The process involves a series of negotiations between you and the insurance company’s claims adjusters. The idea of a claim is to result in a compromised settlement, where both parties are satisfied.
A personal injury lawsuit occurs when negotiations can’t be reached. A lawsuit often follows a claim, and the process involves a series of investigations, or in some cases trials, to determine the damages you deserve by law.
A personal injury claim process has many moving parts. In many cases, it is difficult to predict how the case will end up or what could happen along the way. What starts as a personal injury claim looking for a settlement can quickly develop into a lawsuit that even works its way up to a trial.
Assess the RiskThe biggest question between moving forward with a personal injury claim versus a lawsuit is the risk. Both options have their risks and benefits, and it will always depend on the type of claim being filed.
Settlement risks include the possibility the other party fails to deliver or pay the settled amount. Generally speaking, settlement risk is extremely low. The majority of personal injury claims filed in the United States are resolved through a settlement agreement.
Lawsuit risks include the possibility of receiving a smaller settlement amount that was agreed upon the initial claim. Another potential risk is that you may allocate a large portion of your potential rewards if you win the case.
You also have to contemplate the idea of going to trial. In this case, the risk is either all or nothing. Your willingness to choose a settlement or a lawsuit is a personal decision. However, at Long & Jean, P.A., we work closely with our clients to run a complete risk assessment before taking on any claim. Our attorneys will tirelessly make sure you understand the risks associated with the many possibilities your case entitles.
Consider the Statute of LimitationsRemember, there are time limits for filing a lawsuit. If you fail to file before the statute of limitations expires, you lose your right to sue and may be left with no rewards. In Florida, each personal injury case has its own statute of limitations.
Under Florida Law, most personal injury claims must be filed within four years from the date of the underlying accident or incident. At Long & Jean, P.A., we recommend our clients pay close attention to the statute of limitations for their personal injury cases.
Four years from the accident: Boating accidents, car accidents, dog bites and attacks, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, mass torts, product liability, and slip and fall claims.
Three years from the accident: Boating, car, and motorcycle accidents due to product liability or mass torts, as well as sovereign immunity claims.
Two years from the accident: Nursing home neglect and elder care claims, worker’s compensation, wrongful death cases, mass torts claim that resulted in death, and sovereign immunity cases that resulted in wrongful death.
Weigh Your OptionsWhen you’re determining whether you should file a lawsuit, working with a personal injury defense lawyer can help you better weigh your options.
To help with this, the attorneys at Long & Jean, P.A., will look at every aspect of your claim, including:
• Medical history and bills
• Police reports
• Scene photos and other evidence
• Current and future damages
• Settlement vs. lawsuit expenses
• Time off from work
In some cases, your lawyer will recommend you to choose a settlement. In others, especially when the other party isn’t willing to negotiate a remotely realistic offer, your lawyer will most likely recommend a lawsuit to help fight for what’s rightfully yours.
When to Immediately File a LawsuitIn some instances, you want to consider the lawsuit path from the very beginning. This can also happen when early in the claim process your attorney can tell there won’t be a settlement. These are some reasons the attorneys at Long & Jean, P.A., recommend filing a lawsuit:
• The insurance company denied your claim
• The insurance company refused to extend a fair settlement offer
• Negotiations with the other party and the insurance company have stalled
• The extent of your damages exceeds the maximum payable amount by the other party’s insurance
Make Your DecisionWhen considering the terms of a settlement or a lawsuit, your decision will always be final. However, by working with a lawyer, you will be able to analyze from a legal standpoint whether a settlement is actually in your best interest.
In rare instances, a lawyer will quickly steer you to one direction or the other. At Long & Jean, P.A., our attorneys will weigh all aspects of your case, including the proposed settlement, and whether it compensates your losses or not.
Ultimately, your attorney is the best person to let you know when a settlement seems fair, or when you have a strong case and you should consider going to trial. If you or someone you know is facing a personal injury case, contact Long & Jean, P.A. today. One of our attorneys will take an in-depth look at your case and help you determine what your best outcome is--a settlement or a lawsuit.