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The Art Of Settlement Negotiation In Personal Injury Claims

Settlement negotiation is a critical phase in the resolution of personal injury claims, where injured parties seek compensation for their losses without the need for a trial. Effective negotiation requires a combination of legal knowledge, strategic thinking, and advocacy skills to achieve favorable outcomes for clients.

Your personal injury lawyer is likely a trained negotiator, cool-headed and focused on getting the best possible outcome for your claim. Our peers from Marsh | Rickard | Bryan, LLC explain some of the strategies their attorneys deploy in settlement negotiations and mediation, including accurately valuing a claim, vetting offers from the defense, and other tactics to achieve optimal results.

Calculating The Value Of A Claim

The first step in settlement negotiation is accurately assessing the value of the personal injury claim. This involves considering various factors, including:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages and Income
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Permanent Disability or Disfigurement

There may also be a third type of damages you can claim, punitive damages, which are not compensatory in nature. Rather, in cases involving egregious misconduct or gross negligence, punitive damages may be available to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.

Assessing Settlement Offers

Once the value of the claim has been established, the next step is to evaluate any settlement offers made by the defendant or their insurance company. When assessing settlement offers, it’s essential to consider:

  • Strength of the Evidence: Evaluating the strength of the evidence supporting the claim, including witness statements, medical records, expert testimony, and other documentation.
  • Liability and Comparative Fault: Assessing the degree of liability attributed to the defendant and any potential comparative fault on the part of the plaintiff, which may impact the value of the claim.
  • Insurance Coverage: Considering the defendant’s insurance policy limits and the availability of other sources of compensation, such as umbrella policies or assets that could be used to satisfy a judgment.
  • Potential Trial Outcomes: Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the case and the likelihood of success at trial, including potential jury verdicts and the associated risks and costs of litigation.

Leveraging Strengths To Achieve Favorable Outcomes

In settlement negotiations, leverage is key to achieving favorable outcomes for clients. Personal injury lawyers can leverage various strengths to negotiate from a position of strength, including:

  • Strong Evidence: Presenting compelling evidence supporting the plaintiff’s claims, including medical records, expert reports, photographs, and witness statements, to demonstrate the strength of the case.
  • Legal Proficiency: Leveraging the lawyer’s knowledge of personal injury law, case precedents, and procedural rules to effectively advocate for the client’s rights and maximize their recovery.
  • Trial Readiness: Demonstrating a willingness and readiness to take the case to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached, thereby incentivizing the defendant to offer a favorable settlement to avoid the uncertainties and costs of litigation.

Settlement negotiation is a critical phase in the resolution of personal injury claims, requiring careful preparation, strategic thinking, and effective advocacy. Through skilled negotiation, injured parties can avoid the uncertainties and delays of trial and achieve timely resolutions that provide them with the financial support they need to move forward with their lives.