A personal injury case often concludes in one of two ways: through a verdict or through settlement. While the court issues a verdict at the conclusion of a trial, a settlement can occur before you file a lawsuit or before the case reaches the courtroom. If you choose to settle your case before going to trial, you will need to sign a release form that details the terms of your settlement.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you are attempting to hold an at-fault party accountable for any injuries you suffered due to his or her negligence. Through your claim, you want to recover compensation for the losses you sustained, such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
A settlement agreement is a legally binding document that signals the end of your personal injury claim. You reach a settlement when you and either the insurance adjuster or defendant, depending on when in your case the settlement occurs, agree on how much compensation you should receive. A settlement can occur at almost any time during the personal injury process, including the following.
Not all settlement offers you receive will be beneficial to you. You and your attorney will need to carefully evaluate each offer you receive and accurately calculate how much compensation you need to recover. If you accept an insufficient settlement offer, you could experience hardships later on.
When you and the at-fault party reach a settlement, the insurance company or the defense attorney will ask you to sign a release of liability. This release prohibits you from pursuing further claims against the at-fault party for the same accident, including lawsuits. The document will include information such as the amount of compensation you will receive, the claims that you are releasing from liability, and the name of the party you are releasing from liability.
The defense lawyer or insurance company will prepare the release document and send it to your attorney for approval. If your lawyer disagrees with any of the terms, he or she and the other attorney will negotiate until they reach an agreement. In some cases, the judge may need to resolve the issue. Once you sign the release, your case is over—so it is very important to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
Once you finalize your settlement agreement and you have signed the release of liability, you can expect to receive a settlement check. The insurance company or at-fault party will issue a check and send it to your personal injury lawyer, who will then deposit it into his or her trust account. Your lawyer will wait for the check to clear, retrieve funds to pay for legal fees and other outstanding costs, and send the remaining balance to you.
The settlement process can be complex. In these situations, it is important that you have a personal injury lawyer on your side who can review the terms of your agreement, negotiate for a better outcome on your behalf, and help you better understand your long-term financial needs. As soon as possible following your accident, contact a Portland personal injury attorney to discuss your claim and legal options.