If you have been hurt in an accident involving a truck and the truck driver is found to be at fault, you now need to decide whether to take the amount the insurance company offers you to settle the accident or file a personal injury claim in civil court and let a judge determine the amount of compensation you will receive.
Even if you decide to file a claim in court, you can still choose to take a settlement at any time during the court proceedings. Settling out of court will save both time and money, especially if the amount offered is satisfactory to you.
What are the advantages of taking a settlement over going to court?
A legal settlement can be reached without going to court by using a method called ‘alternative dispute resolution (ADR)’, which includes mediation, negotiation, or arbitration. Mediation and arbitration methods or coming to an agreement are non-binding, while the arbitration process will be instead of a civil trial and is binding. Many trucking accident claims are settled using the ADR processes. You may still go through ADR while your case is going through the court process.
Settlements can be favorable over a court resolution mainly because it takes less time to resolve and therefore the costs are less than litigating a court case. In addition, ADR is favored over litigating in court because both parties are able to state their case confidentially and neither party has to admit to being at fault. This process is strictly to negotiate a settlement that both parties can agree upon.
Are there negatives to settling out of court?
It is usually preferable to settle out of court if possible, but you need to weight the cons as well when deciding to take the settlement amount.
- You have to agree not to pursue any future legal action in conjunction with this specific truck injury or accident
- The amount you agree on in a settlement may be considerably less than what you could have been given had your court case been successful
- If you agree to a binding settlement, you cannot choose to go to court with the same issue
- If you settle out of court, you cannot publicly talk about the defendant’s liability in the case or get the satisfaction of winning the court case.
Are there different types of settlements?
There is a lump-sum settlement and a structured settlement. If you choose to receive your settlement in one lump sum, it is just that — you get it paid to you all at one time. On the other hand, a structured settlement is a set amount paid in regular installments over a period of time already determined. There are tax implications to taking your settlement either way and the way you choose can have an effect on the net amount you receive after taxes.
Contacting a truck accident lawyer Canoga Park, CA offers is a good idea so that you can talk about the specifics of your accident and injuries. Your lawyer can then work with you to decide which avenue to take to recover damages, whether it be attempting to settle via ADR or if taking your claim to court to obtain the best possible result for you.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Barry P. Goldberg for their insight into truck accidents and settling your claim out of court.