Gavel and MoneyIf you are injured in a car accident or other incident, someone is often legally responsible for your injury. Filing a personal injury claim could help you obtain compensation from the responsible party to pay your medical bills, as well as other losses, which are known as damages. When you settle with the other party, you accept payment for your injury and agree not to sue that party. Although your lawyer will give you advice about settlement, it is your decision to settle or not.

A Personal Injury Claim

If you've been involved in an accident, you may have physical, mental or emotional injuries. Even if insurance covers your medical bills, you may (depending on the circumstances) still file a claim for damages. Damages include lost wages, damage to your property, any permanent disability, rehabilitation, and present and future pain and suffering. While some personal injury cases are decided by a judge or jury in a courtroom, many are settled out of court.

With a Settlement, You Can Get Paid Faster

If your case goes to court, the process can take several years from beginning to end. If you settle the case instead, the defendant pays an agreed-upon sum of money soon after all the documents are signed. This agreement includes a statement that you release the other party from responsibility. If you've already filed a lawsuit in court, you'll have to agree to drop the case against the other party.

You Can Agree to a Settlement at Any Point in the Case

Settlements can be reached at any point in the case. Often, the insurance company will make a settlement offer after reviewing your medical records and expenses. However, some cases settle after both sides present evidence to the judge or jury. In many courts, parties are required to attend mediation or settlement conferences before starting a trial.

The Amount of a Settlement Is Based on the Damages

You must provide the party responsible for your accident with information about your injuries, expenses, and your need for future treatment. Evidence might include medical records, hospital bills, pay stubs, and witness statements. The defending side may ask for a medical examination by a doctor of its choosing. It may hire expert witnesses to disprove your version of the case. Your lawyer can help you estimate how much money you might receive after a trial instead of accepting a settlement.

You May Not Be Paid in One Lump Sum

Settlements may be paid in a lump sum or in periodic payments. A structured settlement involves buying financial products called annuities that pay a certain amount every month or year until the total is paid in full. This arrangement can reduce taxes but won't allow you to buy a house or other expensive item because you're getting smaller payments over time.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding personal injury settlements is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.

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