Negotiation is the process of settling a disputed matter. Most personal injury cases do not go to trial. Instead, the parties negotiate a settlement agreement before filing a lawsuit. They may also settle the case after filing a lawsuit to avoid trial.
Each personal injury case is unique. The steps taken to settle the case depend on several factors. However, the negotiation process in personal injury cases generally includes the following steps:
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Reservation of Rights Letter
You may receive a letter from the insurance company stating that they are investigating the claim. The letter is not a denial or an acceptance of a claim. It merely is a way for the insurance company to protect its interests.
Your Baltimore personal injury attorney and the insurance company will complete independent investigations. Your lawyer will gather evidence proving causation, fault, and liability for the accident. They will also identify all parties that could be responsible for your injuries and damages.
The insurance company will generally search for evidence it can use to deny your claim. If the company cannot deny the claim, it typically tries to undervalue your damages to pay as little as possible to reach an agreement.
Keep in mind that what you say to an insurance adjuster can be used against you later in your case. Therefore, it is in your best interest to avoid making statements or answering questions without talking to an accident attorney.
Complete Medical Treatment
While your attorney investigates the cause of your injury, you need to complete your doctor’s treatment plan. Prompt medical attention helps you receive your desired outcome for your case. Delays in medical care can result in allegations of failure to mitigate damages and denial of causation for your injuries.
When you complete medical care, your doctor will prepare a statement to explain permanent impairments and disabilities. You may recover compensation for future damages if you have a permanent impairment. Future damages can significantly increase the value of your personal injury case.
Depending on the situation, your injury attorney may hire medical experts to provide additional evidence and opinions regarding the severity of your injuries and how those injuries impact your daily life and quality of life.
Negotiations Begin With a Settlement Offer
In most cases, a Baltimore personal injury lawyer will prepare a settlement demand letter to begin the negotiation process. A demand letter is written based on the facts and circumstances of your case. Therefore, it is unique.
However, most personal injury settlement demand letters include:
- Basic information about the parties involved in the disputed claim
- A discussion of the facts and circumstances that led to your injury
- A discussion of the laws and legal theories that create fault and liability for your injuries and damages
- The details of your injuries, including further information about permanent impairments, scarring, disabilities, and disfigurement
- A breakdown of your damages and a demand for settlement
It could take several months to obtain a negotiated agreement. Your attorney will have a negotiation strategy to respond to counter-offers and denials. Your attorney will use various negotiation skills and techniques to obtain the best possible outcome for your case.
However, if the insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement agreement, your attorney may suggest an alternative to a negotiated settlement. For example, a successful negotiation might occur with the help of a mediator. You might also consider arbitration.
If negotiation fails, the other form of dispute resolution is filing a lawsuit. Your attorney will discuss the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit to help you decide whether to accept a negotiated settlement offer or pursue the at-fault party in court.
Factors That Affect the Negotiation of a Personal Injury Claim
Many factors can impact how much your personal injury case is worth. Factors that could affect how much money you receive for a personal injury settlement include, but are not limited to:
The Severity of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries directly impacts the value of your injury claim. Catastrophic injuries cost more to treat and result in higher out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages.
Also, it is generally presumed that traumatic injuries increase the level of pain and suffering. Therefore, non-economic damages have a higher value.
Maryland’s Contributory Fault Laws
Maryland adopted the harshest form of contributory negligence laws. Pure contributory negligence means that if a victim shares any fault for the cause of their injury, they are barred from recovering money for their damages. Insurance companies use contributory fault laws to avoid paying injury claims whenever possible.
The Availability of Insurance
Liability insurance compensates you for injuries and damages caused by a person insured by the policy. A person can have liability insurance for their automobiles. They may also have a general liability policy if they are a business owner.
Maryland requires drivers to have a minimum of $30,000 ($60,000 for two or more injured persons) for bodily injury car insurance. Therefore, if you sustain a severe injury, the insurance limits might not cover all your damages. You would then need to sue the driver for damages, which may not result in receiving more money.
Your personal injury attorney will investigate all sources of compensation to get you as much money as possible.
The Maryland Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. The statute of limitations may vary depending on the type of case and the parties involved.
Always check with a Baltimore personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to verify the statute of limitations applicable to your case. Missing the deadline to file a lawsuit means giving up your right to pursue legal action against the party who caused your injury.
Contact an Experienced Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer For Help With Your Personal Injury Case
Negotiating a personal injury settlement can be a complicated, lengthy process. If you are unsure what to do after an injury or accident, contact a Baltimore personal injury attorney for help. An attorney will help you throughout the negotiation process and take your case to trial if necessary.