Lots of injured victims are usually hesitant to pursue a personal injury claims against the responsible party simply because they have be opportune to see the dramatic trial scene in movies and on television. But realistically, trials are not nearly as dramatic as they are usually portrayed in entertainment. More so, a large number of personal injuries cases might not really see the inside of a court room, let alone make it to trial. This is usually because there are plenty of steps your experienced personal injury lawyers will take before trial the secure your settlement without the need for a stressful litigation.
Demand letter: in some case, what it takes to have the case settles is a demand letter from your attorney to the defendant’s insurance company and the defendant. This letter will make it known that you have suffer certain injuries and you should be entitled to certain amount of compensation, usually because your injuries occurred due to the negligence of the defendant. It is not certain that this demand letter will resolved the case, some defendants may agree to pay the sum. This is the first phase in the negotiation of settlement with the other side. Usually there are certain ethical rule that you attorney must follow duly.
Further negotiations: usually when the first demand letter is rejected, it is often countered with a smaller offer by the insurance of the defendant. Negotiating for settlement is a process so the request may go back and forth so many times before a reasonable agreement is reached.
In the trial of a personal injury, the jury or judge usually examines the evidence to be sure whether the defendant should be held responsible for the harm and injury claimed by the plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence. Trails usually are the opportunity for the plaintiff to argue his or her case, usually hoping to obtain a judgment against the defendant. It is also the defendant’s opportunity to refute the plaintiff’s case by offering his or her own evidence corresponding to the dispute.
When both parties have presented their respective arguments, the judge then considers whether to find the defendant culpable for the injuries claimed by the plaintiff and if yes, to what extend?
Although trials are the most high profile phase of the lawsuit process for personal injuries, a lot of personal injury issues are usually resolved before trial and even before the lawsuit is filed in some cases, through settlement between the involved parties, through dismissal, alternative dispute resolution and through processes like mediation and arbitration.
A personal injury trial when completed usually consists of the following:
1. Selecting or choosing the jury
2. Opening statement
3. Cross examination and witness testimony
4. Closing arguments
5. Jury instruction
6. Jury deliberation and verdict
There are generally two ways that a personal injury case can be settled with those who are at fault, outside or inside of court. Many attempt the first, before tackling the latter. This is usually to save both time and money. Sometimes the latter is preferred, for one of many reasons, as outlined below.
Outside of court
When a personal injury case is settled outside of court, the insurer or defendant makes an offer to pay the person who was injured. The offer may be made at any time, before or even after a lawsuit was filed. As long as no verdict has been made, it could still be offered. The jury could be deliberating, and an offer be made. Once an agreement, also known as a settlement, is reached, the plaintiff signs a full liability release, relinquishing all future claims. If more expenses involved appear later, the injured person will not be able to sue or attempt to collect any more funds. In general settlements are often offered when insurance is involved, which is very common in personal injury cases.
This process may be started by either party, and can often go back and forth for some time, as the parties involve attempt to reach an agreement. It may even go right up to the point when the jury is deliberating before an agreement is made. All components of the settlement, legal fees included, must be settled before that settlement is considered a binding and final legal document.
In addition, there may be a limit to how much the insurance would even pay out for. If there is, for example, a limit of $200,000, and the demand is for $500,000 will the overage of $300,000 ever be paid? Could the individual or individuals ever come up with those kinds of funds? Those funds, even if awarded, may not be something that one is ever able to collect. The process of collecting could be long and quite problematic.
Also, this process can drag on so long, that sometimes one must push for the second option, a civil lawsuit. There is a time limit on when this can be filed, and a statute of limitations as to when it is too late to be filed.
Going through a civil lawsuit
This route is often taken when the injured person is not able to obtain compensation from those they have deemed at fault for their injury, or they haven’t offered an amount that the injured party or parties considers reasonable. In other instances the injured party may be more concerned to have their day in court, and make a point, rather than the actual collecting of funds.
Consulting a Dallas personal injury lawyer will help with making weighting one’s options, and help to make a legal and informed decision in regards to resolution of any personal injury case. The process can be convoluted and frustrating, having a guide is a strong step towards simplifying.