The Settlement Process For Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Cases

By Peter DePaolis

Many if not most Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuits settle without going to trial. Although settlement can bring a quicker end to a claim, it’s important for victims to bear in mind that it is a process that will take time. Knowing how that process works will help victims in their quest for monetary compensation. The skilled litigators of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP are ready to negotiate on your behalf for the justice you deserve.

Insurance companies are relatively quick to contact victims after they suffer a personal injury. At first blush, this may signal to the victim that he or she is headed for a speedy resolution. But the victims need to understand that insurance companies are not interested in their personal, health, or financial well-being. Their interest is saving as much money as they can by either minimizing or denying payouts on claims. Therefore, it is almost certain that the settlement offer you receive from the insurance company will be insufficient to cover your damages.

For this reason, it’s imperative that victims retain knowledgeable legal counsel before speaking with the insurer. A personal injury attorney with an understanding of the settlement process can negotiate on your behalf and increase the chances that you will receive the true value of your case. Once you retain an attorney the door opens to more productive negotiations with the insurance company and their lawyers.

The Settlement Process

The victim’s attorney and the insurance company’s attorneys will exchange arguments, evidence, and proposed settlement figures. The dollar values of the initial settlement figures will rarely if ever be close to each other, but of course, the goal is to work to close that gap over time. A mediator may be involved at this stage to help the parties negotiate.

The two sides will exchange revised figures and generally work towards a mutually agreeable resolution of the case. This process may take a matter of days or weeks, or it could drag on for months and even years. It depends on numerous factors including the nature of the victim’s injuries, how convincing the victim’s evidence and arguments are, and how far apart the two sides are in their negotiations.

Insurance companies and their lawyers want to make sure that any settlement is the last and final word. To that end, they will require the victim to sign a release if a settlement is reached. This release will prevent the victim from ever reviving the case or asking for more money concerning his or her injuries.

For this reason, it is important for the victim’s lawyer to have a thorough understanding of the value of the case. That means calculating a reasonable amount of economic (e.g. medical bills) and non-economic (e.g. pain and suffering) damages. One unknown variable is how much your future damages, such as follow-up medical treatments, will be. You don’t want to retain an attorney who hasn’t negotiated a personal injury settlement or is unfamiliar with the type of claim you have. Our firm has successfully settled all kinds of personal injury claims for our clients.

Throughout negotiations, both sides will weigh the costs and benefits of settlement versus going to trial. If negotiations are productive and move steadily in the direction of a settlement, there’s a good chance the two sides will keep engaging each other. However, if discussions drag on without resolution, one or both parties may decide at some point that it would be more preferable to take a chance with a court jury. This is a decision that will require careful judgment and deliberation from your lawyer.

Contact Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis Today

As you can see, numerous considerations go into settlement discussions. You need an attorney who has the experience and tenacity to negotiate effectively on your behalf. Your lawyer should also be familiar with other details such as drafting settlement documents. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP is ready to fight for you. Give us a call now.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.