Did the Parties Try to Settle the Case Before Trial?
If you have ever been a member on a jury in a personal injury trial, have you ever wondered if the parties attempted to work out a settlement agreement before moving forward and going to trial? The answer is almost always yes.
Before a suit is filed with the courts, the attorney for the injured person will typically collect all medical records and bills, lost wage documentation, and any pertinent information regarding fault and damages (including photos and documentation detailing property damage).
The attorney for the injured person will then send a letter called a “Demand Letter” to the insurance company for the at-fault driver and suggest that the matter be resolved without moving forward into a trial situation. The insurance company is usually given 30 days to respond to this demand.
Negotiations may take place between the insurance company for the at-fault driver and the attorney for the injured person. If they cannot agree on a settlement amount and a suit is filed, the judge assigned to the matter usually orders the parties to attend something called a “mediation.” A “mediation” is a conference between both parties which allows both parties to present some of the strong points of their cases as well as present what they think is weak about the opposing party’s case. This is done in an attempt to try to resolve the matter with the assistance of a neutral party who is called a “mediator.” This conference is an efficient tool in encouraging a settlement and if a settlement agreement is not attained during this time, both parties agree that these discussions of settlement will not be introduced in court.
At times, insurance companies will take the position that they will not negotiate, they will not make any offer, and they would rather force the injured person to go to trial. This scenario is becoming more and more prevalent. The power and financial backing of insurance companies is enough to fiercely test the emotional endurance and financial stamina of many people. This is an unfortunate fact and one that injured persons and their attorneys have to consider thoroughly when facing situations like this.