The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits never see a courtroom because the parties settle. However, to obtain a favorable settlement, you need someone in your corner who understands the art of the deal.
Anyone who has tried to negotiate the purchase price of a new or used vehicle knows how hard it is to get the best deal possible. Negotiation requires extensive preparation, strong communication skills, and the ability to read other people. At Dolman Law Group, our attorneys bring these skills to work every day on behalf of our clients.
Why Both Parties Benefit from Settling their Dispute
A high percentage of cases settle because both sides realize quickly that it is in their best interests to settle a legal dispute amicably. For example, a lawsuit can take a year or more before it ever goes to trial. Even after the jury renders its verdict, the losing party can try to bring an appeal to a higher court, which might take another year (or longer). If the loser appeals all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, you can add another year (or more) to the time. It is not unusual for a decade to pass before a dispute is finally resolved in court.
This amount of time costs a lot of money. Defendants usually pay their lawyers by the hour, and three or more years of legal work adds up to one hefty bill. Defendants can easily spend more in legal fees than they would end up paying to the plaintiff for his or her injuries. By settling, defendants can save money and stop the litigation.
Plaintiffs also benefit from settlements because they get access to money faster. Why wait a year or more before you get compensation to cover medical bills and replace lost wages? Instead, by settling, you can gain access to funds in a short amount of time, which can reduce your stress levels.
Furthermore, by settling, both sides will know with certainty how much money is changing hands. In a trial, anything could happen. For example, the jury might have complete sympathy for the plaintiff and want to punish a corporate defendant. Alternately, the jury might not have any sympathy for the plaintiff and either decide the case against him or only award a small amount of money. Settlement eliminates these risks.
Negotiation Requires Adequate Preparation
Some people try to negotiate on their own with powerful insurance companies, which is an elementary mistake. If you try to “wing it” in negotiations, you will end up with far less than you are probably entitled to.
Proper preparation begins with calculating how much money your injuries are worth. This is a complicated process but can be typically broken down into two parts: economic losses and non-economic losses.
Economic losses are the easiest to calculate. They include things like:
- Medical bills for treatment or rehabilitation
- Prescription drug receipts
- Receipts for any equipment to treat your injury
- Estimates for property damage
Economic losses also include lost wages. If your injuries will prevent you from returning to work, then a lawyer can estimate the amount of lost future income as well.
The real key to adequately calculating your losses is to estimate the amount of non-economic losses for things like:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or mental anguish
- Loss of consortium for negative changes to your marriage
Based on his or her experience, your lawyer will estimate how much these injuries are worth and add them to your economic losses to give a complete picture of what constitutes a fair settlement. To start the process of estimating your damages, contact Dolman Law Group today.
Negotiation—More Art than Science
Preparation is one thing. But a skilled negotiator needs to know how to actually negotiate with a resistant defendant or insurance adjuster. At Dolman Law Group, our attorneys have proven ourselves more than up to the task of convincing the other side that our requests for compensation are reasonable and in the best interests of both sides.
Perhaps one reason we have been so successful is that we are skilled trial attorneys who know how to persuade judges and juries. Remember, if a defendant chooses not to settle, we will force them into court where they must take their chances with a potentially hostile jury. The personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group do a thorough job building cases with the best evidence available, so defendants and their insurers know that they will have a fight on their hands if they insist on going to trial.
Evidence is also key to negotiations. A cornerstone of a successful negotiator is the ability to justify your demand for compensation. A skilled negotiator will back up their request for compensation by highlighting the severity of your physical and emotional injuries. Defendants know that if they do not settle, then this evidence will come out later at trial.
Negotiation Requires Listening
Successful negotiation also requires knowing how to read the other side. Generally, defendants are more motivated to settle when they know they are 100% responsible for the accident. Based on thorough preparation, we will know whether you bear any responsibility for your injuries or whether they are entirely the fault of the defendant. When all of the evidence points in only one direction, we can press to maximize your settlement amount.
We will also listen to you, our client. Florida’s Rules of Professional Conduct require that we get your authorization before we settle a lawsuit. This means you cannot be railroaded into a settlement that you do not approve of. If the defendant cannot make a satisfactory offer, you can always walk away from the negotiation table and head to trial.
Speak with a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury settlements provide victims with financial compensation and bring to a close legal disputes that can be very stressful. If you have been injured in an accident, you need a powerful advocate in your corner. Contact one of the personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group in Clearwater to begin the process today. Call 727-451-6900 or submit our contact sheet. Initial consultations are free.