Written By: David MacDonald and Savannah Snyder, Summer Student
If you or a loved one has undergone a traumatic injury or loss, it’s vital to find the right lawyer that will help you receive the compensation you deserve. Over 95% of personal injury claims do not go to trial, making it essential to understand how to navigate personal injury settlements.
1. Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s vital to find a lawyer that can help you best navigate the legal system and advocate for your right to fair compensation. Retaining a personal injury lawyer with leading trial experience is the best strategy to obtain the best results for your claim.
Insurers classify personal injury lawyers as either trial lawyers or settlement lawyers. The type of lawyer you choose will have a significant influence on the outcome of your claim. Understanding the differences between trial and settlement lawyers will help you choose a lawyer that will best advocate for you.
Leading trial lawyers are known for protecting their client’s right to fair compensation by going to court. They use cutting edge technology both inside and outside of the courtroom. In comparison, settlement lawyers aim to settle their cases and avoid going to court.
A common misconception is that trial lawyers always go to trial. Trial lawyers are experienced litigators both inside and outside the courtroom. Insurers know that trial lawyers will prepare a case for trial to ensure their client receives the fair compensation to which they are entitled. Clients who are represented by leading and experienced trial lawyers, like our team at McLeish Orlando, will be more likely to receive fair settlements, will receive fair settlement offers sooner and are less likely to go to court.
After suffering a severe injury, achieving a fair settlement is crucial. Trial lawyers will not only protect your right to fair compensation but will also ensure you receive the optimal rehabilitation support, care and treatment for your injuries. Leading trial lawyers work with the top rehabilitation providers to help you maximize your recovery.
2. Advantages to Settlements over Trial
Why would a trial lawyer settle before going to trial? There are many advantages to settling a personal injury claim instead of going to trial. Trials bring additional risks for the victim and his or her family. Retaining trial lawyers who have leading experience in the courtroom change the risk quotient by ensuring the best evidence is marshalled to bring a compelling claim to a favourable result.
Settlements are a way to crystalize appropriate compensation. Before an offer is presented by you, your trial lawyer will break down and discuss the elements of compensation to which you are entitled, the rationale for each sum, and the evidence which supports it. For any offers that are presented, as part of introducing the offer, the trial lawyer will indicate whether or not the compensation is reasonable and the reasons for either recommending the offer or recommending against accepting the offer.
Either way, you can make an informed decision on whether to present an offer or accept or reject an offer presented to you. You will be able to decide on the settlement package with your personal injury lawyer before it is accepted, and you will know what amount of compensation you will receive before providing your acceptance of the offer. At trial, you are no longer the decision maker, and a judge or jury will evaluate the evidence and make a decision as to the nature and the amounts of compensation you will be awarded.
Settlements occur sooner than the normal trial process. Although settlements can occur up to the date of trial or even after the trial starts, normally settlements occur much earlier in a case, either after discovery, at mediation or at pretrial. Settlements can also occur in some instances before discovery or even before the claim is issued; however, insurers often low ball offers at early stages to some lawyers who will discount the worth of the claim for “fast money”. Before accepting any offer, clients should ensure they know the amount to which they are entitled and the available policy limits of the insurance of all at fault parties. That allows a client to make an informed decision as to whether to accept or reject an offer.
Done right, at the right time, by leading trial counsel, settlements allow clients to receive fair compensation sooner.
3. Severity of Injuries
The severity of your injuries will affect how quickly your claim is settled and the size of the settlement. It’s important to retain counsel that have top experience in assessing and evaluating injuries. Trial lawyers have experience working with expert witnesses, including top medical professionals.
Leading trial lawyers will invest in obtaining expert reports and records from top medical professionals who are well respected and excellent witnesses and can provide authoritative opinions about the issues in the case. These opinions will often open the door to discussions about fair compensation for your injuries and losses. Leading trial lawyers don’t compromise the value of your case by “eyeballing” your needs and by not investing in reports addressing the needs. The trial lawyers at McLeish Orlando understand the importance of accurately evaluating injuries to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Injuries resulting in permanent impairments will have a larger influence on your settlement payment. A permanent injury is when you experience a loss, loss of use of, damage to or malfunction of a part of your body, bodily system or function that will continue more likely than not for an indefinite period of time.
Severity of injuries are also evaluated by the importance of a particular injury to the individual. It takes into consideration the way that injury affects that client’s life. Again, leading trial counsel ensure they understand you as a person, physically, mentally, emotionally and cognitively. We find out your pre-accident social, leisure, vocational, educational, and daily activities and determine how the injury has affected you in each of those areas and how you may need assistance in each of those areas or experience losses in each. The more severe your injuries, the longer the duration and the larger the degree of impact on the areas above, the larger your personal injury settlement becomes.
Our team at McLeish Orlando have leading experience in assessing severity of injuries and will ensure your severity of injuries is accurately evaluated by obtaining reports addressing the severity on each of the areas of function and determining the cost of funding the needs to help you return to function or return you as near as possible as money or funded treatment or care can to your pre-accident life and level of function.
4. Calculations of Personal Injury Settlements
Personal injury settlement calculations typically cover both pecuniary (capable of being calculated in money value) and non-pecuniary damages. Pecuniary damages include medical expenses, medication costs, lost past income, lost future income and the costs of purchasing care from a personal support worker or other attendant costs. Non-pecuniary damages are values assigned by the court to less calculable impacts of an injury and include pain and suffering, seriousness of injury, and loss of physical or mental function. Working with leading trial lawyers will ensure that you receive your right to fair compensation based on both types of damages.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic injury, the costs of both your past and future care are likely an immense concern. A settlement will include compensation to cover costs you have incurred, such as hospital visits, medications, and other expenses.
An experienced trial lawyer will also ensure future costs of rehab, treatment and care are accurately determined by hiring a Life Care Planner and calculated by an accountant or economist to ensure any offer reflects payment for these needs. Future costs of care often include attendant care and professional services, rehabilitation support, medication, housing and vehicle modifications, and a management fee to ensure the funds are appropriately invested so funds are available currently and, in the future, when the needs arise.
It’s important to hire an experienced team of trial lawyers to ensure experts are hired to accurately identify your potential future needs and losses and accurately calculate what future costs you may incur. Our experienced team of leading trial lawyers will effectively address and advocate so that you receive fair compensation for your pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.
5. Receiving Settlement Payments
Personal injury settlements are usually paid out as a one-time lump sum amount. A lump sum payment is where you receive the entire compensation award at once. However, there are other options to receive payment:
- Structured settlements: structured settlements are regular payments over a period of time on a reoccurring date. They are guaranteed and tax-free payments. You can think of a structured settlement similar to a reoccurring paycheque.
- Trust: a personal injury trust is a type of trust that manages and pays out personal payments as needed based on the expenses you are incurring, instead of receiving money upfront or on a reoccurring basis.
- Annuity: annuities guarantee payments over the term of the annuity and offer flexibility.
Personal injury lawyers who are experienced trial lawyers are the best choice to help you reach a settlement payment agreement that effectively and fairly addresses your losses.
If you or a family member have suffered an injury, it is crucial to receive top legal advice to ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. At McLeish Orlando, our team of personal injury lawyers marshall all our experience, invest in well respected experts, and ensure each client’s case is presented using excellent advocacy approaches in helping our clients achieve excellent settlements. We help achieve fair settlements by taking full charge of the legal process and involving excellent rehabilitation professionals so our clients can focus upon their recovery goals and achieve the most meaningful lives possible after recovering from their severe injuries.