The ideal scenario when you hire a personal injury attorney is that the at-fault party or their insurer will offer a settlement. It is hard to make heads or tails of whether an offer is a good one, though. Here are four ways that lawyers assess their clients' settlement offers.
Extent of Physical Recovery
You don't want to take any chances that your physical recovery hasn't reached its maximum. For attorneys, the reason they tell a client this is simple. Clients are only eligible to accept one settlement, and that means it has to cover as much of the clients' medical expenses as possible. You can't come back for more if things take a turn for the worse down the road so you don't want to accept a settlement before you know the full extent of both your injuries and the recovery process.
The Defendant's Negligence
In injury law, negligence comes in many shapes and sizes. There is a very maximal form of negligence known as strict liability. This means the defendant is on the hook for compensation that covers all of the victim's medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and economic damages. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are contributory and comparative forms of negligence. This means the victim's contribution to the events gets deducted as a percentage from the overall value of the case. If an insurance adjuster determined you were 25% responsible in a case valued at $100,000, for example, the compensation would amount to $75,000.
If a personal injury attorney and a claims adjuster are far apart on the question of how negligent the defendant was, it may take a while to settle. The same applies if there are differences over whether the case gets covered by ordinary negligence or strict liability.
Even if you have recovered as fully as the circumstances might allow, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get back to normal life. An injury may permanently inhibit your range of motion or ability to concentrate, for example. Similarly, an injured person may have long-term care expenses, such as medication, therapy, and medical devices. Given you're only getting one settlement, you want to be as sure as possible that the compensation you receive will pay for these long-term concerns.
The evidence backing a case is important, too. If a personal injury attorney isn't sure how well the evidence holds up, they might recommend accepting a slightly smaller offer. This ensures the client has the ability to bank the compensation rather than risking a drawn-out fight.