For some injured accident victims, the hesitation to reach out to an attorney and file a personal injury claim comes from a reluctance to go to trial. An injury trial can be long and drawn-out, as well as expensive for those involved. Luckily, the vast majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial. Instead, they successfully settle during one of a few options for alternative dispute resolution.
How to Settle a Personal Injury Case Out of Court
Your personal injury case will not proceed immediately to trial after you file a claim against one or multiple parties for allegedly causing your injuries. The first step will be discussions and negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company if the company accepts your claim. If the company does not accept your claim, you may need to take the defendant straight to trial. In most cases, however, an insurance company will agree to negotiate a settlement with an injured claimant in Kansas City.
- Settlement negotiations. Most personal injury claims only go to the insurance settlement stage before resolving. Settlement negotiations involve you (or your lawyer) and the insurance company of the at-fault party going back and forth with amounts you both believe are fair to settle the case. You may receive an offer from the insurance company, counter it with your own offer and continue negotiations until you both reach an amount that satisfies you. If the insurer does not offer a suitable amount, continue to the next stage.
- Mediation is a popular type of alternative dispute resolution in which you, the defendant and your lawyers (if desired) meet with a mediator to work out an agreement. The mediator will not have the power to issue a decree or order you or the defendant to reach an agreement. Mediation works simply by offering an unbiased third party’s perspective to help clarify the matter and allow both parties to compromise. Mediation can be as informal or formal as the parties wish.
- If mediation fails, you and the defendant can try arbitration before going to trial. Arbitration is similar to mediation in design, except that the arbitrator overseeing the process will have the power to create a binding decision for the parties involved. If both parties agree to the arbitrator’s decision, the personal injury claim can end here. If one or both parties do not accept the decision, the case may have to go to trial.
The best way to improve your chances of settling a personal injury case out of court is to contact an attorney. An injury lawyer can represent you as a plaintiff during all pre-trial negotiations and alternative dispute resolutions. Legal representation can increase the odds of reaching a successful settlement with an insurance company, as a lawyer will know what tactics and strategies to use against a claims adjuster. Your lawyer also will not let you settle for less than your claim demands. If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement during alternative dispute resolutions, your lawyer can help make an injury trial easier.
Tips for Successful Alternative Dispute Resolution
In most cases, the plaintiff and defendant can work out a suitable arrangement during some type of pre-trial negotiation. Most plaintiffs wish to avoid trials to save time and stress, while most defendants wish to avoid the expense. Both parties are motivated to work something out without attending a personal injury trial. As an injured party, you may be able to improve your chances of avoiding your day in court by entering into negotiations with an open mind. Both parties should be open to hearing the other side’s offer, negotiating and compromising. You should not, however, feel pressured to accept a lowball offer. Use a personal injury attorney to help you achieve a positive outcome, recover fair compensation and avoid a trial, if possible.