Can Personal Injury Claims Be Settled Out of Court?18th Apr 2018
Suffering a personal injury is extremely stressful. Settling out of court can help to minimise long-term distress, as well as ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Fortunately, most personal injury claims are settled without court proceedings.
Around 95% of cases never go to trial, with the claimant still receiving a worthy resolution.
Why Is Settling Out Of Court Beneficial?
Ultimately, it’s the most efficient way for victims of personal injuries to obtain what they are entitled to, without adding unwanted pressure.
You’ll only need to take your case to court if the other party doesn’t accept liability for your injury. Your solicitor will endeavour to settle the claim without litigation, which will most likely benefit both your wallet and long-term wellbeing.
First and foremost, a trial through court is expensive.
If you’ve suffered financial losses due to your injury, any money you are awarded is best invested in getting your life back to normal. Paying for court fees probably isn’t where you want a chunk of this compensation to go.
In addition to the financial repercussions, going to court (and giving evidence in front of a judge) can significantly increase your level of stress. You’ve already been through the emotional mill because of your injury; any extra pressure won’t be welcome.
Anxiety aside, settling out of court is generally a quicker way to reach your desired outcome. All claims are different, so there’s no specific time period to speak of – but accepting a settlement from an insurance company can take weeks, while a court case could drag on for months.
Fortunately, if you do end up having to go to court, most personal injury cases can be handled on a no win, no fee basis.
All things considered, we’re sure you would rather concentrate on getting better.
What Happens During An Out-Of-Court Settlement?
When conducting an out-of-court settlement, your solicitor will concentrate on some specific areas to negotiate your claim. They will consider elements such as physical pain, emotional suffering, future care costs, loss of earnings and other expenses you have incurred because of your injury.
Having approached the other party, your solicitor will only recommend an offer to you if they think it’s fair, considering all the above factors. In addition, the defendant will usually pay your ‘reasonable’ legal costs as part of the agreement. All you need to pay is the success fee for your solicitor, which will come out of your compensation.
Insurers will sometimes respond to a claim by offering an immediate lump sum, but this may not be truly representative of what you are entitled to. Having an experienced solicitor to negotiate the process will ensure that your compensation is fair and reasonable.
Your solicitor won’t agree on a settlement of your case until you have agreed its terms – usually by phone or letter.
How Can I Obtain The Most Reasonable Settlement?
When considering a reasonable outcome, you should ask yourself what the best-case scenario looks like, as well as the minimum figure you are willing to accept.
The most critical course of action, however, is to ensure that you have plenty of evidence to back up your claim. Negligence will need to be proven, whether you settle out of court or not.
After an accident, you should:
- Preserve evidence – take photos and videos of anything you think will be relevant, such as the scene of the accident and any objects which may have contributed. Write down times, dates, names and contact details of any witnesses.
- Obtain a professional medical assessment – ideally this should be performed by a consultant, who can provide a specialist diagnosis. Ask your GP for a referral if necessary. Remember to tell your doctor about all your symptoms; it’s unlikely you’ll be able to change the official medical assessment later.
- Keep on top of expenses – injuries can be a costly business, so be sure to track any smaller payments that you make because of your accident – they all add up. Keep your receipts, take a photo on your phone and – most importantly – make sure that your solicitor is aware so they can account for it in your overall claim.
- Take psychological symptoms seriously – they’re just as valid as any physical health problem. If your mental health has been affected by your injury – be it stress over finances, depression from lifestyle changes or anxiety over medical appointments – it’s crucial to let your solicitor know.
- Trust your solicitor – insurance companies will often try to persuade claimants that the process will be simpler without legal support. Ultimately, this is because insurers can get away with smaller pay-outs if claims are processed without professional guidance.
With all these efforts combined, you should be in good stead to make a successful personal injury claim, without setting foot in a courtroom. Focus on walking the road to recovery instead.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury and would like to make a claim, get in touch with Coles Miller’s personal injury solicitors.
Every claimant is entitled to a free initial phone chat to discuss the viability of their claim – book yours today.