Car Accident Settlement Or Lawsuit? Questions To ConsiderBy Matt Willens
Apr. 6, 2017 11:55p
After an injurious vehicle accident, you may be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault person instead of just settling with his/her insurance company. But most auto accident injury lawsuits are better off ending with a settlement, and they do. You can always take your case to court, however, and if you're trying to decide whether to settle or sue, here are helpful questions to ask.
How much is your case worth?
Are your damages worth going the distance for? Lawsuits are more expensive, lengthier, and more complex than dealing with an insurance company. Weigh the value of your case against the anticipated costs of a lawsuit, and see if it would be worth it. Many times, a settlement amount – even if it is not quite what you wanted – can outweigh the costs of suing.
Are the negotiations going well?
When a case goes to court, it is typically because the negotiations with the insurance provider have broken down and cannot reach a compromise. For instance, the insurance adjustor may be insisting that your injuries are not as severe as they really are, or that the at-fault driver was not liable altogether. Another example is when you have agreed on a settlement amount but cannot agree on the terms of settlement.
If you and the insurer cannot agree with finality, a lawsuit with the help of a good auto accident attorney may be a logical next step.
Is the insurance company still acting in good faith?
Insurance providers are required by law to act in good faith – that is, to deal with you fairly and to fulfill its obligations. But sometimes, insurers use unfair methods to avoid their obligation to pay, and this is considered acting in "bad faith".
Common examples of bad faith in insurance:
- Denying your claim without reasonable basis
- Failure to conduct reasonable investigation of your claim
- Failing to timely pay what they owe you
- Failing to explain the reason for denying your claim
- Requiring an unreasonable process in claiming
If you believe that the insurer is acting in bad faith, you have the option to make a bad faith claim and increase your potential compensation, or you can sue the company with the help of a lawyer.
Are you willing to risk your case?
Bringing on a lawsuit has a higher risk: if you lose at the trial, you may not receive any compensation at all. Remember that a trial is no longer like negotiating with insurers – at a trial, the defendant could have highly skilled lawyers and the jury could make an unpredictable decision.
How serious are your injuries?
There are injuries, called threshold injuries, that are severe enough to merit a trial. States have varying rules on this, but generally, threshold injuries are those that are permanent, have caused significant damage, or limit your normal abilities for a long time. These may include:
- Loss of a body organ
- Medically certified impairment
If your injuries meet your state's threshold, you may want to fight for more than just an offered settlement.
In considering all these, it is best to have the guidance of a personal injury lawyer. Your attorney can give you sound legal advice on how to get the compensation and the justice you truly deserve.