Victims of automobile accidents are usually focused on receiving fair compensation for their injuries. Unfortunately, the wheels of justice move slowly, and you might need to wait a year or longer before your automobile accident lawsuit goes to trial. On certain occasions, it might be better to settle with the party at fault so that you can receive your compensation faster. Because every situation is different, you should meet with a Georgia personal injury lawyer to assess your situation.
Why Lawsuits Take So Long
Unlike other parts of the world, the American legal system is based on making sure there are no surprises when you go to trial. To that end, each side can engage in extensive fact finding by questioning the other side and asking for documents. This fact-finding phase is called “discovery,” and its goal is to make sure everyone lays their cards on the table before trial. Discovery can be quite extensive, especially if you have serious injuries or multiple cars were involved in the crash. It’s not unusual to spend over a year in discovery.
Before you can even get to discovery, however, you’ll need to file initial papers with the court called “pleadings.” The defendant in the lawsuit can challenge your pleading as insufficient or otherwise defective, so you’ll need to argue about this in front of the judge and possibly attend multiple hearings.
The Settlement Process
After receiving treatment and notifying your insurer of the accident, you can begin to think about a settlement. Typically, you and your lawyer will gather all available evidence, such as the police report, photographs, and eyewitness testimony. Your lawyer will also review your injuries and estimate how much they are worth. Your lawyer then submits a demand letter to the other driver or their insurer asking to settle the claim for a particular dollar amount.
Once the other side receives your settlement letter, they will review it and make a counteroffer. Insurers rarely agree immediately to your proposed amount. Instead, they send a letter back explaining why they are offering a lower amount. Both sides then go back and forth until they can hopefully reach an agreement on an amount.
Is Settlement Right for You?
Settlement can help you get the compensation you deserve quickly without having to wait for trial. If you’re risk-averse, you might also like a settlement because it guarantees you some form of compensation, whereas there is always a risk you might lose at trial and receive nothing for your injuries.
However, you’ll need to review your situation carefully to determine whether settlement is the right option. Consider the following:
- Have you completed medical treatment? If not, it can be hard to settle until you can identify the full amount of your medical bills.
- Is the other driver or their insurance company open to negotiating in good faith? If not, you might be better off filing a lawsuit.
- Were you at least partially to blame for the accident? It will be hard to reach a settlement if you and the other driver continue to dispute who is responsible.
Settlement is an individualized process, and only an experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you of the right option to take. You also must realize that once you settle a claim, you’ll release the other driver from any legal liability for your injuries going forward, which means you can’t sue in the future if your injuries get dramatically worse.
Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Slappey & Sadd, we help accident victims analyze their options and pursue the one that’s right for them. Contact us today or call04-255-6677 to schedule a free consultation. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including Rossville, Loganville, and Dalton.