A personal injury settlement agreement is a legally binding contract that two parties to a lawsuit enter into voluntarily. Most personal injury cases never make it to trial and instead, the parties negotiate the terms of an agreement. In exchange for financial compensation, the plaintiff (victim) must release the other party from liability and discontinue legal action.
From the moment your lawsuit is filed, both attorneys will be preparing to negotiate a settlement, which is often the best course of action for a personal injury claim. Civil litigation can be expensive, and both parties are usually looking for a quick resolution.
One party initiates the settlement process by making a specific offer to the opposing party, who may accept, reject or modify the proposal. This will usually happen during the mediation process before the claim is ever brought before the court. If the opposing party modifies the offer, then the first party has to accept those modifications for the agreement to take effect. There might be several rounds of negotiations before the parties reach an agreement.
The defense attorney for the at-fault party will prepare the release, which outlines the terms and conditions of your settlement. This document will state that you will not pursue additional damages (compensation) from the at-fault party for the specific injury you already filed a claim form, along with other information deemed appropriate by the defense. If your attorney agrees with the terms of release, you will have to sign the form in the presence of a notary public.
Once you sign the form, you cannot change the terms and you have released the opposing party from further liability. Your attorney will send the document to the defense attorney and the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurer will not release or write a check without obtaining the release form. As soon as they receive the release, the insurer has a legal obligation to write the check, but internal issues may slow this process.
There are many advantages to signing a settlement agreement rather than going to trial. Settling is a guaranteed win and is usually quicker to payout and less expensive than litigation. Settlement agreements can also remain confidential, unlike court records, which are public information.
When you agree to a settlement, you essentially give up your right to pursue any further legal action. The main disadvantage is you may receive a higher monetary award from a judge or jury. However, the outcome of a trial is never certain.
Contact CaseyGerry if you are injured because of someone else’s negligent act. The litigation process can take a long time to complete, and we will guide you and determine if a settlement agreement is appropriate in your case. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Message us online or call us today at (619) 238-1811.