Most Americans would fall behind on essential bills if they miss just one paycheck. If your financial security is in jeopardy after a serious personal injury, you might be tempted to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company. But if that settlement doesn’t include future medical bills, lost earning capacity, or other damages you’re reasonably certain to incur, accepting it might put you on the path to overwhelming debt.
Fortunately, more than 9 in 10 personal injury cases are resolved out of court, which means claimants usually don’t have to go through the hassle of litigation. But in certain scenarios, taking a case to trial is the smartest option. For example, if there’s strong evidence of liability and damages yet the opposing party still refuses to settle, going to court might be the only way to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Below are a few factors that might influence whether your case goes to trial:
- The Amount of Compensation You’re Seeking: The higher the value of your claim, the more resources the insurer will likely invest to dispute it. If the insurance adjuster uncovers a weakness in your claim and refuses to pay a fair settlement, your case might end up in trial.
- The Strength of Your Evidence: If your evidence is weak and there’s a disagreement regarding liability, causation, or the value of your claim, it might be difficult to reach a settlement.
- Whether You’ve Made a Critical Mistake: If you post about your injury or case online, miss doctor’s appointments, disobey your healthcare providers’ instructions, or make another error that leads to a dispute, your case might be more likely to go to court.
A seasoned personal injury attorney can help you take the necessary steps to prevent disputes and complications that would send your case to trial; however, it’s still important that you hire a skilled trial lawyer with extensive litigation experience. At the end of the day, the best attorneys prepare for settlement negotiations as if they’re going to court, and they’re not afraid to enter litigation if a settlement cannot be reached.
How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Case If I Go to Trial?
Going to court can extend the total duration of the proceedings considerably. But throughout the litigation process, it will still be possible to reach a settlement rather than waiting for a verdict. As new evidence comes to light through depositions and other forms of discovery, the defendant may be more inclined to settle.
While there’s no set timeline for resolving personal injury lawsuits, you should expect litigation to draw out the proceedings for at least a few months if not years.
How Can I Increase the Chances of Reaching a Settlement?
While the outcome of your case is somewhat out of your hands, there are steps you can take that may increase the chances of reaching a settlement and avoiding trial. Examples include:
- Letting Your Attorney Handle Relevant Correspondence: Rather than providing the insurance company with a recorded statement that might be used against you, it’s wise to let your personal injury lawyer handle this correspondence.
- Adhering to Your Medical Treatment Plan: If you deviate from your treatment plan—for example, by returning to work too early or missing doctor’s appointments—the insurance company might dispute your claim by arguing that you’ve failed to mitigate your damages.
- Staying off Social Media: Your online posts might be used by the insurance adjuster to dispute your claim. If you stay off social media, that’s one less source of ammunition the insurance company can use against you.
What Damages Can I Pursue?
All personal injury claimants have the right to pursue compensatory damages; however, the types of damages pursued and the total value of those damages can vary immensely from one case to the next. Factors that could influence the potential value of your claim include the permanents and severity of your injuries, the types of injuries you sustained, the amount of income you’ve lost due to your injuries, and whether punitive damages are warranted.
Below is a breakdown of the compensatory damages that may be recoverable in California personal injury cases:
- Property damage;
- Past and future medical bills;
- Lost income and benefits;
- Loss of future earning capacity;
- Home care;
- Necessary home and/or vehicle modifications;
- Alternative transportation;
- Child care;
- Domestic help;
- Other economic damages;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Emotional distress; and
- Pain and suffering.
When Are Punitive Damages Warranted?
In the state of California, personal injury victims may be entitled to punitive damages if the defendant’s misconduct involved malice, fraud, or oppression. It’s important to note, however, that such awards are only recoverable against private entities and cannot be recovered against government entities.
Unlike many other states, California does not place a cap on punitive awards; however, the figure must be reasonable and proportionate to the harm the plaintiff has suffered.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
No matter how confident you are that your claim will settle out of court, there are all sorts of unexpected complications that could send your case to trial. It’s important that you have a skilled litigator by your side throughout the proceedings so you’re ready for all eventualities.
Attorney Michael D. Waks has earned a reputation as one of the toughest trial lawyers in southern California. Michael prepares each case for trial even if a settlement is the anticipated outcome. This approach will send a message to the opposing party—that you expect to be fairly compensated, and you’re not afraid to go to court if they refuse to cooperate.
There’s no charge for the initial consultation, and you won’t have to pay any attorney’s fees unless we win your case through a settlement or verdict. To speak with a personal injury lawyer in Long Beach, call (562) 206-1939 or fill out our Contact Form. A member of our team can come to you if you’re unable to come to us.
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