Pursuing a personal injury claim can be a very involved process. If you're thinking about hiring a personal injury attorney to represent your interests, it's a good idea to learn how your case might end. These 5 outcomes are the most common.
In every scenario, your personal injury attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company's claims adjuster. This one happens to be the scenario where the adjuster agrees with your argument and accepts the claim. It will likely take a few months before payments start once a settlement has been reached.
The claims adjuster reviews your attorney's demand letter and the details of the case only to conclude they disagree with the entire premise. Your options at this point are to either give up the claim entirely or sue.
It's possible the adjuster will agree with the premise of your claim while not being happy with the proposed settlement amount. Your personal injury attorney and the adjuster will correspond back and forth until they arrive at a settlement that works. A lawyer has an obligation to share every settlement offer with you, even if they believe it's not a good one. If a settlement can't be negotiated, suing is still an option.
Settlement After Litigation Starts
It's worth noting that a settlement is still on the table even if you do begin a lawsuit. In fact, about 95% of injury cases never go to trial. One reason for this is that the litigation process opens up discovery. This is a legal process by which both sides have to disclose all the information they have, including video and audio recordings, cellphone data, messages, and other items. During the discovery process, damning evidence may emerge that drives a settlement.
Presuming no agreement has been reached by this stage, going to trial is an option. The case can be tried by either a judge in what is called a bench trial, or by a jury. Defendants may seek bench trials if they have histories that juries won't like, such as a vehicle driver who has had multiple DUIs. Plaintiffs or defendants may seek bench trials if the only dispute is over an issue of law rather than a question about the facts.
Court cases end in judgments for or against the plaintiff. Liability will be apportioned to the responsible party before the judge sets the amount of the judgment.