In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and personal injury cases, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
How Does an Attorney Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
After lawyers become involved, the settlement process becomes significantly more complicated. A New Hampshire personal injury attorney will utilized a diverse range of legal tools, including their own experience, to negotiate the most beneficial settlement for a client.
In the Commonwealth of New Hampshire, the majority of personal injury lawsuits will be settled before reaching trial. There are a number of benefits (for both the plaintiff and the defendant) to ensuring a personal injury lawsuit remains out of the courtroom.
When Will Settlement Negotiations Begin?
After a personal injury lawsuit has been filed, settlement negotiations generally will not begin until both sides have completed the discovery process. The discovery process includes depositions and interrogatories. It is rare for an insurance provider to enter into settlement negotiations unless they have gathered all of the facts they feel they need to make a decision.
In more complex lawsuits, most defense lawyers are unwilling to negotiate a settlement until after the plaintiff’s attorney has provided the names of their expert witnesses. This is due to the desire to wait and see if the plaintiff’s attorney has conducted the research required to adequately prepare the case for trial.
In some lawsuits, the defense lawyer will file a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, which is also known as a summary judgement. In such cases, most defendants are unwilling to discuss a settlement until after the court has made a decision regarding the motion. If the motion is granted by the court, the case comes to an end. However, if the motion is denied, then it becomes time to talk. In some instances, a defense lawyer may be willing to enter into negotiations while the court is considering the summary judgement. Each case is unique.
When it comes to discussing settlements, the defense lawyer and the insurance company are the ones who hold the cards. These are the individuals/entities in charge of the money. If they are not ready to enter serious negotiations, the plaintiff and their legal counsel will not move forward in discussions.
Experienced personal injury lawyers for a plaintiff do not want to appear too eager to discuss a settlement because their actions might be interpreted by the defense as being desperate. If the defense believes that a plaintiff is desperate to settle, they will generally make lowball offers in an attempt to persuade the plaintiff to settle the case for far less than it is actually worth. Consequently, a plaintiff’s legal team will generally wait until a defense lawyer requests a settlement demand.
How Are Settlement Negotiations Conducted?
In smaller personal injury suits, particularly when attorneys are acquaintances, one attorney might pick up the phone and discuss a settlement. An official demand letter may or may not be sent. A defense lawyer may or may not reply with a counteroffer. If the defense believes that the original demand was too high, they may choose to ignore the offer or state that it is too much. If a counteroffer is made by the defense, then the negotiating will begin. Attorneys can sometimes settle these cases, sometimes not. If a settlement cannot be reached, then the case will more than likely move to mediation.
Many personal injury lawsuits involve mediation. Nowadays, most New Hampshire courts require both parties to attend mediation in an attempt to have the case resolved. Mediation is conducted either by a private mediator or a judge who is not assigned to the personal injury claim. In the beginning, a mediator meets with each party. Then, he or she meets with each side individually to see if they can get their numbers closer together. Mediation may take a few hours, or it can take days or weeks. It is not always successful, but does have a fairly good track record.
Settling a Personal Injury Case
Settlement negotiations can go on for quite some time. A plaintiff shouldn’t be discouraged by the fact that the negotiations are drawn out. There can be a number of reasons for this. As long as the lawyers for both parties are still talking, this is a good sign.
If a plaintiff decides to accept a settlement offer from the defense, then a case is considered settled. All the attorney is required to do is inform the defense lawyer that the offer has been accepted.
You Can’t Go Back
The single most important rule about accepting a settlement offer is that it can’t be undone. In the state of New Hampshire, once an offer has been accepted. It is final. As with most other contracts, it is useless to request a court to overturn a settlement agreement. For this sole reason, it is important for a plaintiff to carefully consider all aspects of the settlement offer before accepting.
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This site does not constitute legal advice. An attorney client relationship is formed only after an agreement is entered into between an Attorney of Liberty Legal and a client is reached. Past results do not guarantee future results.
Disclaimer: Some cases are referred to other law firms with consent of client.
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