Frequently Asked Questions

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  • How are settlements paid?

    The majority of settlements are paid in one lump sum with a month or two after the settlement is reached. In some cases, the victim may choose to receive a structured settlement where the money is paid to them over a period of time.

  • How will proceeds of the settlement be paid?

    In the majority of personal injury lawsuits, the attorney is working for the victim on a contingency basis. This means the attorney only gets paid if they are successful in obtaining a settlement or award for the victim. This contingency amount is agreed to before the attorney agrees to take the case. Generally, the attorney is paid a percentage of the total amount of the settlement or award. The attorney is also reimbursed for any advanced costs they covered for the case, such as court fees or expert witness testimony fees. If there are any liens against the settlement – such as reimbursement requests from medical insurance companies or providers – those parties will receive their fees. The amount left over is paid directly to the victim.

  • Who decides a personal injury settlement amount?

    The final decision is made by the parties involved in the lawsuit, guided by the legal advice of their attorneys. When an insurance company is involved, then that company is also involved in the decision. In more complex cases, there may be a mediator or settlement conference judge involved in negotiations.

  • How are settlement offers made?

    There are many ways a settlement offer can be agreed to. If the parties are in active negotiations, there is likely an ongoing communication exchange taking place, with phone calls, emails, and letters between the victim’s attorney and the at-fault party’s attorney and/or insurance company. There may also be formal settlement conferences or mediation where the agreement can be reached. In situations where the lawsuit has reached trial, the agreement may be reached right outside the courtroom before or during the trial.

  • How is a settlement amount determined?

    There are multiple factors that are used to determine what settlement amount a victim should receive for their injuries, including:

    • The amount of assets or insurance the at-fault party has available. If the victim’s damages are of a higher amount than what the at-fault party’s insurance limits are and that party does not have the assets to make up the difference, the case will likely settle for the policy limit amount. There are exceptions, however, such as in car accident lawsuits where the victim may be able to also file a claim against their own insurance policy).
    • Projecting what a jury could decide the value of the case is if the case goes to trial. An injury attorney will research what jury verdicts were in cases similar to the victim’s case.
    • The willingness of the victim to settle for less than the full value of their claim or the willingness of the at-fault party and/or their insurance company to settle.

  • Who can agree to a settlement?

    The only parties who have the authority to settle a lawsuit is the victim. A personal injury attorney can only negotiate on the victim’s behalf and offer legal guidance as to whether or not the settlement amount if a fair and just one. The attorney cannot agree to the settlement on behalf of the victim. Once an agreement is reached, a judge must still approve the offer.

  • How do settlements work if there is more than one at-fault party named in a lawsuit?

    When there are multiple liable parties named in a lawsuit, the victim can reach a settlement with one or more of the parties and still pursue litigation against the party or parties who have not settled. This is referred to as a partial settlement.

  • At what point during the personal injury lawsuit process can a settlement take place?

    The parties can agree to a settlement at any time during the process, from the time the victim files their claim, before the trial, or during the trial, up to when the jury or judge announces their decision. Even after the trial, if there is an appeal filed, a settlement agreement can still be negotiated.

  • What is a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit?

    A settlement is an agreement that the parties involved in the lawsuit come to in order to avoid litigating the lawsuit in court. The majority of settlements involve a monetary award that the at-fault party or parties agree to pay to the victim. This compensation is to cover both the economic and noneconomic losses the victim suffered as a result of their injuries. In return, the victim agrees to dismiss all claims they have made against the at-fault party.

     

  • I was hit by a commercial truck and got seriously hurt. Is an injury claim against a trucking company the same as a car accident claim?

    If you were seriously hurt in an accident caused by a large commercial truck or big rig, the process for taking legal action isn't exactly the same as filing a claim in a more typical auto accident.
     
    In a typical auto accident, state law usually applies. When a commercial big rig or 18-wheeler is involved, certain federal laws apply. For example, commercial trucks must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations were passed to reduce commercial vehicle accidents and decrease fatalities. 
     
    Federal laws mandate that commercial truck drivers and companies carry certain minimum amounts of liability, bodily injury, and property damage insurance coverage. These federal laws and regulations establish certain standards for trucking companies, owners, and drivers. Federal laws concerning commercial truck drivers can be found under Title 49 of the United States Government regulations.  There are also many federal laws that set forth a list of safety regulations a commercial truck driver must follow, including logging requirements and proper weight and vehicle load. 
     
    The litigation process against a major trucking company can be complicated, which is why we strongly recommend you reach out to a law firm that has experience in truck accident injury cases.