What Is a Personal Injury Settlement

What Is a Personal Injury Settlement

Most people have seen the ads for personal injury lawyers offering to represent those who’ve suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence. But something that’s not often talked about is what happens when one of those lawyers wins a settlement.

After an accident, there are so many factors out of your control, and you’re dealing with so much stress and even pain. That’s why having as much information as possible about settlements is vital. At Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq, we offer some of the answers you need before embarking on this process.

So, exactly what is a personal injury settlement? And what can you expect if you win one?

Understanding Personal Injury Settlements

A personal injury settlement is an agreement in which a person who suffered an injury because of someone else’s actions accepts money in exchange for dismissing the claim against the person who caused the injuries.

This is typically the outcome of extensive negotiations between lawyers. A settlement can take place at any time during the civil litigation process — even after filing a lawsuit.

The process of achieving a settlement can vary depending on the circumstances of the claim. But it will involve your personal injury lawyer submitting a letter that details your injuries and demands a monetary amount to cover the losses you’ve suffered. It will also include a legal basis for your claim.

The defendant’s insurance company will usually respond to this letter by outright denying the claim or giving a counteroffer. That is when negotiations begin. If there’s no resolution, the next step is to file a lawsuit and take the case to court.

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How Are Settlements Paid Out?

If the settlement takes place before a trial, you can receive it much faster than you would if the court gets involved. This is because defendants can often file appeals that delay the payment process.

If you and the other party have come to an agreement, the defendant is responsible for providing the payment in a timely manner. Often, the funds are available as quickly as 30 days after signing the agreement.

The settlement agreement itself outlines how long the process takes and how you receive payment. There are two main forms of receiving payment. With lump-sum settlements, you receive compensation all at once. It’s the simplest option.

The other form, structured settlements, is more complex because you receive payment via installments, sometimes for years at a time. In most instances, these payments are funded by the defendant’s purchase of an annuity from a life insurance company.

The process can be a bit different if your case goes to trial. Once there’s a judgment on the civil lawsuit, the court orders the defendant to pay a certain amount to the plaintiff, giving them specific timeframes in which to do this. The timeframe can depend on many factors, including local regulations.

If the defendant plans to appeal, they may have to post a bond or offer some form of financial security that ensures payment if the appeal fails. The plaintiff won’t get paid until this is resolved.

How Much Do Lawyers Charge?

Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t have to pay upfront fees. And if your lawyer doesn’t win the claim, you don’t have to worry about being saddled with any lawyer bills.

If your lawyer does win, the settlement goes to the law firm first, where it’s placed in an account dedicated to this purpose. From there, we will deduct any funds that we paid. Some of these expenses can include:

  • Complaint filing fee
  • Fee to serve the complaint to the defendant
  • Court reporter fees for deposition transcripts
  • Filing fees for motions
  • Expert witness fees
  • Overnight delivery fees

These expenses are deducted first from the gross settlement. Then, we deduct our fees for the services we provide. According to New Jersey law, personal injury lawyers can’t charge more than 33.33% of the net settlement, which refers to the gross amount minus the expenses.

The law breaks down fee limits further, allowing lawyers to collect:

  • 33% on the first $750,000
  • 30% on the next $750,000
  • 25% on the next $750,000
  • 20% on the next $750,000

It’s important to understand exactly the kinds of fees you’ll be charged. Always ask your lawyer for a complete breakdown of what you can expect.

Factors That Can Determine Personal Injury Settlement Amounts

Insurance adjusters will look at a few factors to determine the settlement amount you receive. One is the medical treatment you received. This affects not only economic damages but also non-economic ones, especially pain and suffering.

Insurers tend to award higher amounts for pain and suffering if the accident involves or requires the treatment of broken bones or other hard injuries. These can include head, nerve, and vertebrae injuries.

Alternatively, perhaps you were prescribed medication for the injuries and received actual treatment instead of only needing a diagnosis. In that case, you can also get a higher settlement. Insurers also tend to award more money if you:

  • Need a long recovery period
  • Require long-term treatment
  • Incurred injuries that caused disruptions to your life
  • Incurred lasting injuries like scars

In a personal injury claim, you could also have suffered soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and bruises. You might additionally have sustained an injury that didn’t require medication or didn’t need a long recovery period. In those cases, your pain and suffering compensation will generally be lower.

Your case’s evaluation will also look at lost income, both in the past and the future. To calculate future income, insurers will look at your career trajectory, the industry in which you work, and many other factors so they can come up with an earning potential number.

Another consideration in determining case value is understanding who was at fault. New Jersey follows a comparative fault model. This means that if you were partly to blame for the accident that resulted in your injuries, you can still get compensation. But the percentage of fault will be subtracted from the total amount.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Having a personal injury lawyer isn’t a requirement for filing claims. However, it’s never a good idea to go through this process without support from experienced personal injury attorneys.

When you turn to lawyers like the experienced team at GGL, you get a fair assessment of your claim, which is a crucial first step in the process. Not everyone will have a viable case, and an assessment can save you significant time.

We then focus on gathering the necessary evidence to prove your claim. This can be challenging to do on your own, and it often requires special contacts to complete the process. For example, we have access to expert witnesses who are ready to analyze the accident and offer their testimony.

One of the most challenging aspects of a personal injury claim is dealing with insurance companies. They are not your friends. Instead of looking out for your interests, they will do everything possible to get you to abandon your claim or get you to accept a low settlement.

When you are dealing with injuries and emotional trauma, you may be tempted to accept any offer just to be done with the experience. A lawyer will fight for you to ensure you get what you deserve — not just what insurance companies try to offer.

If negotiations fail, the next step is to file a lawsuit and take the case to court. You definitely don’t want to do this without having a personal injury lawyer present.

Trust Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq

If you’ve suffered injuries because of someone else’s fault, you need to turn to reliable and experienced personal injury lawyers. At Garces, Grabler & Le Brocq, we provide the guidance you need to navigate the rough waters of personal injury claims.

We have over 30 years of experience and are ready to assess your claim. We treat each of our clients like family, and you can expect lawyers who’ll keep you regularly updated on your claim.

Because we know how difficult dealing with injuries and emotional trauma stemming from the accident can be, we offer compassionate representation and the support you need. With our client-centered approach, we are always here to answer questions or address concerns about the process that you may have.

You shouldn’t have to deal with pain, medical expenses, and many other losses on your own when someone else causes your injuries. At Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq, we can help you get the justice you deserve. Don’t wait any longer. Contact us online today or by calling 1-800-923-3456.

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