When you have been injured in a car accident, securing compensation for your losses is essential. You will probably lose wages from missed time at work, face extensive and potentially long-term medical expenses, experience property damage, and accrue other expenses incurred by the accident. You may also sustain emotional trauma and diminished enjoyment of life in general.
You can secure compensation through a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company or by taking your case to court and obtaining a verdict in your favor from the jury. Asking whether to settle or go to court is an important question. The decision is ultimately up to you, but seeking guidance from an experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer from the Snyder Law Group, LLC will you help make a decision to support your best interests.
Do Not Jump On A First Settlement Offer
Part of knowing when to accept a settlement is knowing when not to accept a settlement. When the at-fault party’s insurance company makes you an offer, do not accept it without first speaking with a car attorney in Maryland.
Remember, insurance companies are out for themselves. They are businesses with the goal of making money. The less they pay out, the more they keep, so it is in their best interests to convince you to take a low offer. Do not fall for their arguments.
In fact, do not speak with the insurance adjusters at all. Leave those conversations in your car accident attorney’s hands. Your attorney knows what your claim is worth and will not be taken in by tricks or tactics that dishonor that amount.
When To Accept A Settlement
There are benefits to accepting a settlement. You receive compensation more quickly and avoid court proceedings and the unpredictability of a jury.
However, these benefits serve you best only if the settlement offer truly covers your needs. It is challenging for victims to calculate their losses, anticipate future accident-related costs, or put a dollar amount on their pain and suffering, which means determining whether a settlement amount is adequate is also difficult. This is where your car accident attorney’s knowledge and experience is critical.
Your attorney will evaluate your losses with precision, accounting for every dollar spent on medical care and other expenses or lost to property damage or missed time at work. Further, your attorney will assess your non-economic losses and calculate a fair compensatory amount for them. Then, you can make an informed decision as to whether the settlement offer meets your needs and gives you what you deserve.
Make a Demand
If the offer is not sufficient, your attorney can send the insurance company a demand letter to explain your damages in detail and request a fair settlement amount. In the best circumstances, the insurance company will honor your demand. More realistically, you will enter a negotiation phase.
If the insurance company does not agree to your demand, they will make a counteroffer and include arguments supporting this lower amount. Negotiations typically involve “back-and-forth” discussions until parties come to a resolution.
Throughout negotiations, your car accident lawyer will provide you with updates and guidance, helping you decide whether to accept an offer, keep negotiating, or take your case to court. Along with considering the amount of the offer, your attorney will have a sense of how strong your case is. While no one can predict a jury’s response to a case with 100% accuracy, your attorney will give you sound, informed advice.
When To Sue
Sometimes, it is best to settle. Other times, such as when insurance companies refuse to make a reasonable offer or engage in good-faith negotiations, you may need to fight in court.
In some cases, insurance companies “change their tune” and make a fair offer once your attorney files your claim, especially if your evidence is strong. Insurance companies can be forced to pay higher amounts when juries side with victims, and when faced with that risk, they up the settlement offer.
Negotiations can continue throughout the trial. Opposing sides may come to an agreement as the case unfolds and before the jury reaches a verdict.
Settle Or Sue? It Depends
There is no one “right” answer to the question of whether to settle or sue. The circumstances of your case are unique, and your decision should be made in consideration of those unique characteristics:
- How severe are your injuries?
- What is the extent of your physical, emotional, and financial consequences?
- What is the insurance company offering?
- How strong is your case against the at-fault party?
- How will a trial affect you and your family?
- Do you hold any fault for the accident?
Whether or not you hold fault for the accident is a crucial element of your case. Maryland is one of only a handful of states that operates under contributory negligence laws. The contributory negligence system prevents victims from recovering losses if they hold any responsibility for the accident causing their injuries. Having representation from a skilled car accident lawyer who understands Maryland’s laws is a way to protect yourself from being assigned blame unfairly and having your settlement reduced.
Because of the “all or nothing” aspect of contributory negligence, Maryland has adopted the “last clear chance” doctrine. If victims contributed to the accident but can prove the at-fault party had the last opportunity to avoid the accident and failed to take it when a “reasonable” person would have, victims may be able to recover their losses.
To Settle Or To Sue? We Will Help You Decide
The attorneys at the Snyder Law Group LLC are proud to provide accident victims in Maryland and Washington, D.C., with dedicated, compassionate, and fierce legal representation. No case is too complicated for us to navigate, and no battle is too tough for us to fight. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Settle or sue? Let us review your case and help you decide.