Most individuals who seek legal representation for their personal injury case in the cities of Oakville, St. Catharines, or Waterloo are unaware of the fact that roughly 90% of all cases are settled out of court. A settlement is basically an agreement made between the defendant, plaintiff, and their lawyers thereby ending the legal process. In most cases, a settlement is negotiated by the defendant agreeing to compensate the plaintiff with an agreed upon sum of money.
Prior to the Settlement
The two parties engage in negotiations prior to reaching a settlement at which time the following usually transpires between them:
· They each state their case
· They make claims
· They respond to each other’s claims
· They make settlement offers
The best case scenario is for settlement negotiations to proceed as quickly as possible. That is why you need a good personal injury lawyer that is not only aggressively perusing your case but is not intimidated by the other party. However, this will depend on 3 factors:
· the circumstances
· the offers involved
· the willingness of the parties to settle
Unfortunately, negotiations can oftentimes break down or drag out until both parties wind up in front of a judge and jury because of their inability to reach an agreement out of court. When it comes to negotiating a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit in Oakville, St. Catharines, or Waterloo, there is no single one-size-fits-all formula coming to a fair and reasonable agreement. Basically, the defendant’s and plaintiff’s lawyers will negotiate back and forth until they can agree.
The Demand Letter
After a personal injury lawyer has investigated your case in order to determine what exactly happened, they will prepare a demand letter for the defendant and their lawyer. Keep in mind that an investigation of the circumstances could take days, weeks, or even months. However, the goal of these efforts is the drawing up of the demand letter. This is simply a formal, legal document claiming that you sustained injuries because of the defendant’s careless, negligent, or reckless actions. Furthermore, your lawyer will also ask for a specific dollar amount as compensation for any and all damages.
Negotiating with Insurance Company Adjusters
While the demand letter is, for all intents and purposes, the first settlement offer in your personal injury case, it is rare that a settlement will be achieved without negotiations. In most personal injury cases, the defendant has an insurance policy that will cover them. Once your demand letter reaches the insurer, it is turned over to an adjuster who will evaluate the case and determine what they feel is a fair settlement amount.
You should be prepared for a lowball offer. Your lawyer will make a counteroffer and at that point, the adjuster will either agree to a settlement or propose another settlement amount slightly higher than the initial one. With any luck, this process will not repeat itself too many times before a fair and reasonable settlement amount if agreed upon.