NEGOTIATING A PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENT IN NEW JERSEY
For those injured in accidents through no fault of their own, initiating a personal injury case is often the last resort. It is sometimes necessary to pursue a personal injury case due to a variety of factors such as unrelenting pain, loss of employment and/or unpaid medical bills. Those injured looking to recover these damages are sometimes left to ask how to make a personal injury claim in NJ or how to file a personal injury claim for a car accident or other accidents. An experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer can address these concerns.
Whenever there is an accident where someone has been injured, one of the first issues to be resolved is whether the party at fault for the accident has insurance. The reason why this is important is because the insurance company will essentially take over the defense of the at fault party, including the settlement negotiation.
INSURANCE ADJUSTERS & DEFENSE ATTORNEYS ARE EXPERT NEGOTIATORS
Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys are expert negotiators. You may recall Tom Hanks, as the negotiator in the movie Bridge of Spies, played an insurance defense attorney. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys are very experienced in settling claims and they also have an abundance of resources at their disposal. When it comes to negotiating personal injury settlements, even the least experienced among them are very competent.
SELECTING A PLAINTIFF’S PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
In order to balance the scales or tip them in your favor, it is important to select the right plaintiff’s personal injury attorney. The first two questions to ask a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer is whether that he or she has ever tried a case before AND whether he or she is willing to take other cases to trial. Some attorneys love going to trial while others do not. An injured person cannot achieve a successful settlement unless his or her attorney is willing to take your case to the jury. This is one of the most important factors when it comes to settlement negotiations. If the plaintiff’s attorney is unwilling to take the case to the jury and the defense knows it, then the settlement could possibly end up being for much less than what justice requires. So, this point cannot be stressed enough.
The other important factor is that the personal injury attorney must be able to prove the case. In order to prove a case at trial, there must be more than just the plaintiff’s own testimony. For example, in order for opinions to be conveyed to the jury, the plaintiff must offer one or more experts such as a medical doctor. Only medical doctors can convey a diagnosis to the jury, not the plaintiff. If the plaintiff’s lawyer lacks experience and has failed to prepare the case for trial, it will not matter how injured the person was or how much the injury has affected the person’s life. Failure to name an expert during the discovery phase of the case could possibly result in the dismissal of the case by the judge. Therefore, it is imperative that the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney has prepared the case for trial during the discovery phase of the case.
This may seem obvious but the injured party must be flexible during negotiations if he or she is interested in obtaining a settlement. The first step in negotiating a personal injury settlement usually involves a plaintiff giving a “demand” to the insurance company. Regardless of the demand amount, it is very unlikely the insurance company will settle the case for this amount. Remember, these are expert negotiators. Therefore, if the plaintiff takes a “take it or leave it” position in regard to the demand, the case will likely go to trial. Instead of paying the plaintiff’s demand, the insurance company will usually make what is called an “offer” on the case. Many times, the initial offer will be low. However, there are times when the initial offer will be fair and just. It depends upon the adjuster/defense attorney handling the case. On the other hand, if the offer is too low and the defense is unwilling to negotiate further, the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney must advise the injured person to take the case to trial. Trials are usually the result of the parties being unable to come to an agreement between the demand and the offer.
In conclusion, getting the highest possible settlement for a personal injury case requires an experienced and fearless plaintiff’s trial lawyer and also an understanding that settlements are the result of a negotiation process, which requires both sides to be flexible.
Thank you for reading.
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