Personal Injury Lawyer
The vast majority of claims arising out of a vehicular crash are settled by and between the injured party’s car accident attorney on the behalf of their client (the plaintiff) and the opposing insurance adjuster working for the defendant. A settlement between the parties is the first attempt toward a successful disposition of the plaintiff’s claim. What is a settlement?
Settlement – Your car accident attorney will attempt to negotiate a fair and satisfactory agreement of compensation for damages including, but not limited to bodily injuries, medical billings, loss of wages, permanent disabilities, pain and suffering, loss of love and companionship. When the material facts of a claim for injuries or wrongful death cannot be disputed by the defendant, and the plaintiff bears little to no responsibility for their own injuries, a reasonable settlement may be successfully negotiated between the parties. When all parties verbally agree to the terms of the settlement, the plaintiff may be asked to sign a release barring future litigation against the defendant and their insurance company in this matter.
If the plaintiff’s damages exceed the limits of defendant’s liability automobile insurance coverage, plaintiff’s car accident attorney may, in addition, endeavor settlement with the plaintiff’s own insurance company under their client’s underinsured automobile insurance coverage.
An experienced attorney, like a personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis, IN, prepares every client’s claim thoroughly, down to the last detail, with the expectation that their claim might go to trial. But when a case cannot be resolved through reasonable negotiations, there are other pre-trial benchmark proceedings where the plaintiff’s claim might be resolved.
Mediation – Mediation is a final pre-trial effort to settle disputes and reach an agreement for compensation for damages. With the assistance of an impartial person called a mediator, a successful mediation can be a win-win for both parties, saving both the plaintiff and defendant multiple thousands of dollars in costs and expert witness fees.
Motion for Summary Judgment – A Motion for Summary Judgment is a request by the plaintiff or defendant for the judge to rule on key issues prior to trial. The judge will schedule a hearing on the Motion and both sides will be heard before a decision is rendered. The judge may grant partial summary judgment, leaving other issues to be decided at trial, or grant a full summary judgment ending the claim.
If the client’s claim has been unresolved at this point, the case will likely go to trial.
Trial by Judge – A verdict by a judge is called a bench trial. The judge hears both sides of the case and makes a judgment for or against the plaintiff’s claim. Bench trials are best used in cases of legal complexity where jurors might experience difficulty. Bench trials are uncommon for personal injury claims.
Trial by Jury – A jury trial may be requested by a plaintiff or defendant when issues of fact are challenged and a pre-trial settlement is out of the question. Jurors drawn from a jury pool may number between six and twelve; the number of jurors varies state-by-state and the type of case being tried. It is becoming commonplace in many jurisdictions for a preponderance of three-fourths or five-sixths of jurors agree upon verdict.
If you have been injured in an accident, call an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your options and his or her legal recommendations.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Ward & Ward Law Firm for their insight into personal injury practice.