What is a settlement?

Maryland JusticeIf you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, or if a family member was killed through someone’s negligence, you may retain a personal injury lawyer to seek monetary compensation for your losses. He or she will prepare to take your case to trial in court, but they may be able to negotiate a settlement, or payment, which will prevent your having to incur the expense and time of a trial.

How likely is it that my case will be settled rather than go to trial?

Generally speaking, about 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled in the pre-trial stages. That may or may not be advisable, or possible, in your case.

Where does the settlement money come from?

Settlement negotiations are conducted with the various insurance companies that may be involved, and the money is paid by the insurance company. This could be a property and casualty insurance company that insured the driver who caused the wreck, or it could be the insurance company that provides medical malpractice coverage for the doctor who botched the surgery.

How much money can I get from a settlement?

Of course this is the No. 1 question on any client’s mind. There’s just no quick and easy answer, because so many factors are involved: how badly you were injured and whether you will have continuing problems as a result; how much your medical costs have been and whether they will continue in the future; whether you lost income from work; and many other variables.

Why aren’t all cases settled?

To begin with, the insurance company has to be willing to engage in reasonable settlement negotiations. They might make an offer or a series of offers over time that simply do not fairly compensate the victim. It is also possible that the injured party may want to take the matter to trial to make a point or to generate publicity about an issue they feel strongly about. Negotiating an insurance settlement takes skill and hard work. You should look for a dedicated advocate who will strongly argue your case even before it gets to court.

How will I know whether to accept the company’s settlement offer?

A seasoned personal injury lawyer like Steve Heisler will know what a reasonable offer is relative to your expenses and suffering. He will discuss its merits with you, taking into consideration the potential costs and time of pursuing your case to trial. The final decision will be yours, but you won’t be alone.

Can I get a quick settlement?

That may not be in your best interest. It often takes some time for the full extent of a person’s injuries to become known. If you rush to settlement and later find out that you were hurt more seriously than you thought you were, it will be too late. When you accept a settlement, you will have to sign a document giving up your right to file a future lawsuit.

How long does it usually take to get a settlement?

The negotiation process is time consuming, often going back and forth several times before an agreement is reached. Some cases settle within months; for others it may take years.

Is a settlement paid in one lump sum?

Most of the time that is the case. In other situations, it is more advisable to have the agreed upon settlement made in period payments. This is referred to as a structured settlement. Once the total amount of present and future expenses is agreed upon, the defendant insurance company then assigns the settlement to a life insurance company that funds the payments with an annuity. Payments may be made in equal installments or may be flexible to take into consideration particular needs or events.

Will I have to pay income tax on the money I receive in settlement?

Tax matters are always complicated, but most settlement proceeds in personal injury cases are not taxable. You should consult your tax professional for advice specific to your situation.

Can you get me a big settlement?

The Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler have been successful at settling many cases for large sums. You can read about some of those on our Verdicts & Settlements page. That being said, it is important for you to realize that every case is different and we can’t guarantee a multi-million dollar result for everyone. What we can promise is that we will fight for you with diligence, we will treat you with respect and compassion, and we will confidently approach the settlement process with your best interests at heart.