Posted on: 16 December 2019
Matters litigated under personal injury law do not generally end up at trial. By most common estimates, around 95% of cases will never see the inside of a courtroom. That's the simple answer, but there's a lot more going on than you might expect. Let's consider how a case might unfold, especially if it seems like a trial is a real possibility.
Submitting a Claim
With few exceptions, injury cases don't go directly to litigation. This is one of the main reasons so few end up at trial. Cases almost always start as insurance claims. In rare cases, a self-insured party might be the subject of a demand letter, but the idea of presenting the claim is still the same.
Insurance claims are commonly filed against business and property owners. The classic version of this is what happens when a slip-and-fall incident occurs at a store. An injured person might talk with a personal injury lawyer about the case. The attorney will do a bit of investigation to figure out how valid the claim might be. Once they have the facts straight, a letter will be sent to the store's insurer informing them of the injuries suffered and what the claimants wants as compensation.
The insurance company then assigns a claims adjuster who conducts their review. While it might be tempting to think this person is out to kill the claim, the job of the adjuster is much more mild-mannered than that. An adjuster must determine the legitimacy of the claim. If the claim holds water, they'll propose a settlement based on data the insurance company has about similar claims where the incident occurred. If the claim seems highly questionable, it is rejected.
Your personal injury lawyer has a legal responsibility to present you with all proposed settlements. They can then explain whether they believe it's a good choice or if you should make a counteroffer. Negotiations may require some back-and-forth before settling, and it's not unheard of for an initial proposal to not quite hit the mark.
The Threat of Litigation
Rejections or poor settlement offers don't have to be settled. The threat of a lawsuit can be a motivator for an insurance company to reconsider its position. Remember, a settlement can be proposed any time throughout the litigation process, right up until a jury has gone into deliberations. In fact, jury selection is often a time when a new settlement will be proposed.Share