Personal injury settlements are the first of many options for closing your case. If you disagree with your attorney on accepting a settlement, do you have a choice in how to proceed?
The short answer: Yes. As the client, your attorney works for you, and whether or not the case is settled is solely your decision. The final choice to accept an offer is always up to you. Your lawyer cannot make the decision without you agreeing.
With that in mind, your attorney will continue to advise you on this choice between settling or going to trial instead. It’s important to remember that your attorney takes different factors into consideration when determining if a settlement is fair or not.
Scenario: The Insurance Company Has Made an Offer That You Consider Low, but Your Attorney Knows the Insurance Company Is Likely at Their Top Offer
Both you and your attorney need to decide if filing suit in your case will be a good idea. Should suit be filed in effort to get a higher offer or to appeal to a jury at trial? If you want to file suit and proceed to trial, your attorney may inform you that filing this suit may not result in a higher offer, and, effectively, you will lose money in the long term.
However, your attorney may also consider that your case may not appeal to a jury. Even if you were injured, evidence may show no significant property damage, or an independent witness is able to place some fault on you for the accident. These are all issues that can be overcome, but without the right jury pool, or without a higher settlement amount, the value of your case could be severely reduced.
Your attorney should clearly explain their reasoning for why they believe a settlement may be in your best interests and help you weigh the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit and going to court.
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Scenario: Your Lawyer Believes You Should Take the Case to Trial, but You Do Not Want To Go to Court and Would Rather Settle With the Insurer
One of the major benefits of working with an experienced personal injury law firm on an injury case is that they have the knowledge of how similar cases or certain circumstances have worked out in the past. They should be able to clearly outline why going before a jury at trial is a good option for your case.
For example, if the insurer believes you contributed to causing your injuries but there is strong evidence to prove otherwise, going to court could help you recover more compensation. This is especially true in Alabama and three other states that practice pure contributory negligence, where those who contribute to their injuries cannot recover any damages.
You still get the final say under these circumstances, but your lawyer should be able to describe the potential benefits of filing a lawsuit and why they believe the additional time and expense of going to court is worth it.
What do I Need to Do When It’s Time to Make a Decision?
When you are in the middle of a personal injury case and there is a settlement offer on the table, some of the things you must remember include:
It’s Your Choice, Always
But what if you want to settle your case? Even if your attorney advises that the settlement offer is not a fair offer, you still have the right to settle over your attorney’s objections. This is your right as a client; you have control over your case.
While your attorney is aware of other factors that may affect the monetary outcome, you just might be a very sympathetic witness and a jury may award you a larger sum than expected. You could have less significant injuries, but the photographs from the accident show tremendous damage to your property.
In either scenario, your attorney will advise you of the best course of action; they will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision for yourself and your case. However, they will not tell you what you must do. You need to make this choice based on what you feel is right for you.
Always Get it in Writing
Whether you choose to settle or not, your attorney will support your decision as best they can. In order to protect your choice, the attorney will require you to sign a written document acknowledging the choice you’ve made about your case. Settling against the advice of your attorney is a bold move, and your signature implies that, regardless of the outcome, you chose to take action with your best knowledge of the situation.
Cases take time, and the cost could outweigh the result of your settlement. What if you win your case but found you could’ve been awarded a larger settlement? These are questions your attorney always seeks to answer, regardless of how you choose to use their advice. It is up to you, but you are not alone.
Your attorney wants you to get justice in your case and recover fair compensation for you. However, they should support you in any decision you make related to your case, including whether to accept a settlement offer or not.
You should not go into your case or negotiate an insurance settlement with your mind made up about what you expect or what you will or will not do. Instead, you need to consider the recommendations of your attorney and other factors based on the circumstances and facts of your case.
You can learn a lot about your case and inform your decisions by listening to your attorney and asking them questions when there is something you are curious about or do not fully understand. You should be able to get answers from your law firm and make your choice to settle or not based on all the data and analysis available to you.
Morris Bart, LLC Represents Personal Injury Victims
If you have questions about your potential personal injury case, contact us today or fill out our free case evaluation form. We are a contingency fee law firm. We have offices around the Gulf South – visit our locations page to find a Morris Bart office near you. Call (800) 537-8185 to speak to an attorney about your legal options for free.
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