When Does a Personal Injury Qualify for a Settlement?
Posted on Aug 1, 2019 in Personal Injury
When a personal injury in Louisiana occurs due to someone else’s fault, the victim usually has a right to obtain compensation for their damages and losses suffered.
The two primary ways to get compensated by the at-fault party include entering into an out-of-court personal injury settlement or going ahead with a civil lawsuit to collect damages through a court verdict.
While it is always possible that a civil lawsuit might eventually provide a larger monetary compensation than a settlement would, there is no guarantee. Therefore, in many cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer in Louisiana may advise the client to pursue a settlement as a first choice.
Possibility of a Personal Injury Settlement in Louisiana
For a personal injury settlement, the first pre-requisite is that the plaintiff and their lawyer must be able to show that their injuries occurred due to the negligence or wrongdoing of the defendant. This will be the matter to be proven if the case goes to trial.
Therefore, a personal injury will qualify for a settlement when the victim’s bodily injuries can be attributed to the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, whether an individual or an organization, or both.
The possibility of a settlement occurs the moment the at-fault party or the insurance company makes an offer of payment to the injured person.
The victim or their family members are typically not in a position to independently evaluate whether the settlement offer is fair and reasonable, and in their best interests.
They should have a competent Louisiana personal injury attorney by their side who can objectively determine whether the case is fit for settlement as the first preference rather than a court verdict. If so, the attorney should be prepared to negotiate the best possible compensation on behalf of the injured party.
When Can a Settlement Be Made?
- Under the law in Louisiana, a personal injury settlement can be made after the occurrence of the accident that led to the victim’s injuries, even before any lawsuit has been filed.
- A settlement offer may also be made after the personal injury case trial proceedings have begun but before the final verdict has been made.
- A settlement could even be made at a point where the jury is deliberating, and one or both parties feel that rather than leave their fate to the jury, the certainty of a settlement is a better choice.
Involvement of an Insurance Company
In a vast majority of personal injury cases in Louisiana, the insurance companies would be involved.
Insurers almost always like to offer a settlement. However, the injured person and their family should be aware that the insurer will aim to minimize the settlement amount because they are working in their own interest, and not in the victim’s interest.
Rather than dealing with the insurance representatives directly, it is wiser to hire the services of a personal injury lawyer in Louisiana who is an experienced negotiator with a successful track record in such cases.
Insurers are risk-averse, and do not wish for a situation where they will have no control over their costs, which could happen if the case goes to trial.
Therefore, when you have a capable personal injury lawyer by your side, the insurer will likely not waste much time before offering a fair and reasonable settlement.
Prescription of One Year in Louisiana Personal Injury Cases
Louisiana Civil Code Section 3492 says that prescription (or statute of limitations as its known in other states) in a personal injury case is valid for a period of one year from the day the injury occurred.
In other words, an injured person has one year from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit for damages against another party.
Therefore, if the injured person’s first preference is to pursue a settlement, the process should be initiated as early as possible after the injury because the time to file a lawsuit (if a settlement cannot be reached) is relatively short, especially compared to other states.
The personal injury attorney should recognize that treatment for the victim’s injuries can sometimes continue for years, well past the prescription cut-off date.
That makes it critical for the lawyer to ensure that the settlement should account for the long-term costs of treatment and rehabilitation as well as the long-term pain and suffering and potential loss of income involved.
Filing a Lawsuit Doesn’t Preclude the Possibility of a Settlement
Just because an injured person has filed a lawsuit does not mean that it will necessarily go to trial. Filing a personal injury lawsuit in Louisiana actually just starts a more formal discovery process with documents, depositions, etc. and many times this expedites settlements. So, the decision for a settlement still remains in the plaintiff’s hands.
In a sense, filing a lawsuit is a way to push the insurance company or the at-fault party to settle. Filing a lawsuit usually means that the defendant will have to hire lawyers and start spending money, time, and resources. It often puts financial pressure on them to settle.
Why Do a Majority of Personal Injury Cases in Louisiana Settle?
Personal injury settlements in Louisiana outnumber by far the cases that go to trial. Here are a few reasons for it:
Settlement Enables the Victim to Avoid the Rigors of a Protracted Trial
A personal injury victim may not be willing to wait for too long to receive financial relief to cover for their medical costs and loss of income. Sometimes the victim or their family may not be emotionally ready to go through a prolonged trial and potential appeals and fight an aggressive legal battle.
A dedicated Louisiana personal injury lawyer will work hard on the victim’s behalf to ensure they receive their full and well-deserved compensation through an out-of-court personal injury settlement, without having to go through a protracted trial.
Settlement Provides a Guaranteed Victory to the Injured Party
If the personal injury case is taken to court, even the best personal injury attorney cannot give a 100% guarantee of what amount of compensation may be decided by the court.
A minuscule level of uncertainty is unavoidable because ultimately the decision is not in control of the attorney. If the victim wants to choose 100% guaranteed victory and 0% uncertainty, an out-of-court settlement might be the right option for them.
A Good Personal Injury Attorney Can Usually Ensure the Best Compensation Through a Settlement
An accomplished personal injury lawyer in Louisiana will build a robust case with solid evidence to be in a strong position to negotiate a maximized settlement. Once the at-fault party realizes they are going to be held responsible, they may want to avoid the possibility of facing a jury that sympathizes with the victim – where they will have no control over the verdict.
Schedule a Personal Injury Consultation with Bloom Legal Today!
At Bloom Legal in Louisiana, we are committed to handling everything from filing your personal injury claim, to collecting evidence, dealing with insurance companies, and more.
Our knowledgeable and experienced team of lawyers will take care of all the legal and technical issues, and pursue all legal avenues to help you obtain the maximum compensation through a settlement or, if necessary, a court verdict. Let us handle the legal side of things, so that you can focus one what’s most important: your health and livelihood.
Call Bloom Legal today for a free case evaluation and let us get started working for you!