While each case is unique, insurance companies generally want to settle out of court. Going to court can be expensive and may lead to an insurance company’s large award to the plaintiff. Therefore, insurance companies most often settle cases rather than go to trial.
As someone who deserves compensation from an insurance company, you need to hire a lawyer. A personal injury attorney can fight for a fair settlement and take your case to trial if necessary.
Why Most Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases Settle
Most civil cases settle, and insurance companies are not the only ones motivated to settle out of court. In many cases, plaintiffs and their lawyers also have reason to settle. Insurers and plaintiffs may want to settle for many of the same reasons.
Why Insurance Companies Often Prefer to Settle
Insurance companies are always motivated to minimize risk. Whether an insurer decides to issue a policy or negotiate a claim payout, they want as little financial risk as possible.
With this in mind, insurers are often wary of going to trial because:
- A judge or jury has the final say over how much compensation a plaintiff may receive (removing control from the insurance company’s hands).
- A judge or jury may award the plaintiff compensation far beyond what the plaintiff may have received through a settlement.
- The trial is generally uncertain—though the insurer can win, they can also lose.
Trial is expensive, even if a judge or jury sides with the insurer. The insurance company will have to pay lawyers. This means the insurance company will pay a high cost to go to court regardless of the trial’s outcome.
A personal injury lawyer must recognize that insurance companies want to avoid trial. An insurer may pay a plaintiff a fair settlement to avoid the risk of going to court. Therefore, a personal injury lawyer should push for maximum compensation when negotiating a settlement on their client’s behalf.
Why a Plaintiff and Their Personal Injury Lawyer May Settle
It takes two parties to settle, and the vast majority of civil cases do not go to trial. Plaintiffs and their attorneys often want to settle (just as insurance companies are).
You may want to settle your case because:
- You receive a fair settlement offer and simply do not feel a trial is necessary
- You want to receive compensation as soon as possible, and settling is the quickest way to resolve your case
- You might lose at trial
An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise if the trial is necessary.
When Does It Make Sense for a Plaintiff to Go to Trial?
Taking a civil case to court generally makes sense when you do not receive a fair settlement offer. More specifically, the trial may make the most sense when there is a large gap between the best settlement offer and the cost of your damages.
If an insurance company’s best offer is not close to the monetary value of your losses, your lawyer may encourage you to take your chances at trial.
Why Don’t Insurance Companies Just Pay Claimants What They Deserve?
Those unfamiliar with the insurance industry may be confused about settlements, negotiations, and trials. After all, shouldn’t insurance companies just pay accident victims what they deserve?
Circumstances are rarely this simple because:
Insurance Companies Want to Save as Much Money as Possible
Insurance companies generally try to pay out as little money as possible.
Some insurers even use bad-faith tactics to avoid paying a claimant fairly, which may include:
- Claiming that the person seeking compensation (such as a car accident victim) is at fault for their losses and, therefore, does not deserve compensation
- Claiming that the claimant’s injuries existed before the covered event
- Claiming that certain items in a claim (such as physical therapy) are unnecessary and, therefore, not subject to insurance coverage
- Offering a lowball settlement offer
- Delaying the processing of the claim, which may aim to convince the claimant to accept the lowball offer
An insurance company may dishonestly describe the details of a policy, hoping that the claimants will not read the policy for themselves or understand it if they do.
The Value of Certain Covered Losses May Be Subjective
The parties may legitimately disagree over the value of certain covered losses. For example, a claimant may believe surgery is necessary for an injury, while the insurance company believes the injury will heal properly without surgery.
These disagreements can create a gulf between how much compensation the plaintiff demands and how much compensation the insurance company is initially willing to pay.
The Parties Can Disagree About Which Losses the Policy Covers
An insurance company and claimant may disagree about which losses the policy covers.
Such disagreements may happen when:
- An insurance company claims that a claimant’s injury existed before the covered event
- An insurance company claims that an insurance policy does not cover specific items, services, or other losses
- An insurance company refuses to provide compensation beyond coverage limits
- There is a dispute about who is at fault for a covered event (such as a car accident)
A personal injury lawyer must convince insurance companies to cover their client’s losses.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Convince an Insurance Company to Pay Their Client Fairly?
A personal injury lawyer’s job is to obtain the compensation their client deserves.
When an insurance company refuses to offer a settlement covering all of a claimant’s losses, a lawyer may:
- Cite language in the insurance policy: If an insurance company claims that the insurance policy does not cover certain losses, your lawyer may cite the policy and prove otherwise. Your lawyer should become an expert on all insurance policies involved in your claim.
- Prove the claimant’s covered losses: If there is any dispute about your covered losses, your lawyer may provide convincing proof of those losses. For example, your lawyer may provide an X-ray, a doctor’s diagnosis, and medical bills for repairing broken bones suffered during a truck accident.
- Prove that the claimant’s losses occurred because of the covered event: If an insurer claims that injuries or other covered losses existed before a covered event, your lawyer will work to prove otherwise. For example, a lawyer might obtain medical records before a car accident. These records may show that a medical condition (like a separated shoulder) did not exist before your accident.
- Explain their calculation of covered losses: If an insurance company challenges your lawyer’s settlement demands, your attorney may explain how they calculated their valuation of your losses.
Each insurance claim and lawsuit is unique. Your lawyer will address the specific challenges they face during your claim. An experienced lawyer will have a dynamic response to any challenge an insurance company presents.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Lead My Insurance Claim?
Many strong reasons exist to hire an attorney and none support handling the claim alone. Some of the many benefits of a lawyer include:
The Formidable Nature of Insurance Companies
Whether you seek compensation for a car accident, fall, or another covered event, you may be dealing with a large insurer.
The largest insurers are worth billions of dollars and also generally have:
- Teams of lawyer
- Substantial financial means to fight claims
- Time on their side, which allows them to delay claims
- Ample experience in the claims process
Insurance companies can be intimidating to claimants, and it’s clear to see why. You hire your legal team to even the field against an insurance company.
The Experience and Training a Lawyer Offers
Personal injury lawyers have experience that is difficult to value. Years of negotiating with insurance companies may prepare a personal injury lawyer to lead your case.
Without experience leading insurance claims or lawsuits, you may struggle with your claim’s challenges.
The Financial Support of a Law Firm
Personal injury lawyers cover the entire cost of completing their clients’ cases, including:
- Filing fees
- Expert fees
- The cost of transportation to accident scenes, court dates, and other case-related appointments
- The cost of any exhibits or tests related to the case
- All other case-related expenses
If you are pursuing a claim or lawsuit, you are already under severe financial stress. A law firm’s support for your case may be a welcomed offer.
Low-Risk Legal Fees
In addition to direct financial support, personal injury lawyers structure their fees in a client-friendly way.
Most personal injury lawyers use contingency fees, which means that:
- You won’t pay the law firm any upfront fee
- The law firm will complete every step of your case without being paid first
- The law firm will receive a percentage of any settlement or judgment they obtain for you
- You won’t have to pay out of pocket for your lawyer
Contingency fees place the financial risk of a case on the law firm. If the lawyer succeeds for their client, the law firm receives its fee. If the lawyer is not successful, the law firm eats their expenses, and the client owes their lawyer nothing.
Your Need to Recover and Focus on Personal Matters
Your health is one of the most important reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer. You cannot deal with an insurance claim if your physical injuries or mental health deficits limit what you can do right now.
Even if you feel you can handle your claim, doing so may put your health at risk. If you hire a lawyer, you can focus intently on your health and recovery. Your attorney’s sole obligation will be to secure the compensation you deserve.
What Losses Should an Insurance Settlement Cover?
Your lawyer will evaluate and identify your covered losses.
Whether they seek compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit, you may deserve compensation for:
- Pain and suffering: A common damage in many civil cases, pain and suffering can include depression, anxiety, lost quality of life, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute pain, chronic pain, sleep problems, and other issues.
- Medical bills: Any medical bills your lawyer can tie to someone’s negligence may entitle you to compensation. The financial cost of covered accidents tends to increase with the severity of injuries, partly due to higher medical costs.
- Lost income: When victims of negligence lose income, earning power, bonuses, promotions, and other professional benefits, their lawyers seek fair compensation for these losses.
- Property costs: In many cases, including motor vehicle accident cases, victims have substantial property expenses. Such expenses can include motorized wheelchairs, vehicle repairs, and replacement of a damaged phone.
- A wrongful death: If you seek compensation for a wrongful death, your damages are likely severe. Loss of consortium, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and lost financial support are common damages in wrongful death cases.
Leave it to an attorney to identify and value your losses. Whether they settle your case out of court or go to trial, your lawyer will demand complete financial coverage of your damages.
Do Not Wait Any Longer to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Whether you are dealing with injuries, an illness, or a loved one’s wrongful death, you should not wait to hire a personal injury lawyer. Your attorney likely faces a filing deadline for your case, so hire them as soon as possible.