Frequently Asked Questions About Settling a Personal Injury Claim
One of the most common questions accident victims have is when they should settle their personal injury claim. However, there are several things you should consider before accepting an insurer’s offer to settle.
At the Lynch Law Firm, PC, our clients often ask our New Jersey personal injury lawyers when they should accept a settlement offer. Below, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions our attorneys receive about personal injury claim settlements.
To learn more, contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. If we represent your claim, we will only charge you if we recover compensation on your behalf.
How Soon Should I File My Claim?
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident to file your personal injury claim. In New Jersey, there is a two-year statute of limitations to pursue compensation through a personally injury lawsuit, according to NJ Rev. Stat. § 2A:14-2.
Although you have two years from the date of your accident to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party, you should not hesitate to file your claim. Insurance companies often have their own deadlines to meet and there are several time-consuming factors you should consider after an accident. This includes undergoing medical treatment and consulting with an attorney to discuss your claim.
If you do not take legal action within the statute of limitations, you cannot recover compensation for your claim.
Why Should I Settle and Not File a Lawsuit?
There are several advantages to settling and not filing a lawsuit. In many cases, settling your claim is more advantageous because:
- Settling your claim is more affordable: Trials are often much more expensive than settling a claim. You may need to hire expert witnesses to testify at your case. Your lawyer may have to advance costs that are later taken from any award that you receive.
- It is faster to settle your claim: If you settle your claim, you can receive compensation much faster than if you proceed with a trial. Trials may take several months to conclude. Then, if one party does not like the result, the case may be appealed and drag on. In the meantime, you have no money from the case to pay your medical bills or replace your lost income.
- Settling your claim is more predictable: Trials are unpredictable, whereas a settlement is a calculated negotiation. Even if you take your case to trial, there is no guarantee that you will win. The jury may find that you were partially or primarily responsible for the accident and rule in favor of the other party. Even if you win, you may not receive the amount of compensation that you need to fully recover.
- Reaching a settlement is less stressful: Trials are extremely stressful. Insurance companies may hire aggressive defense attorneys that call your entire life into question. They may ask you private medical information, attack you on cross-examination or question your credibility.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine a Settlement Amount?
Similar to your attorney, an insurance company will send an adjuster to investigate your personal injury claim. He or she will consider several factors to determine how much compensation you may be owed, such as:
- Your medical expenses to determine the cost of your treatment
- The police or accident report to find out if you may be partially responsible for the accident
- Your medical records to examine the severity of your injury
- Past injuries you may have suffered to connect your current injury to a pre-existing condition
The adjuster considers how likely you are to win at trial and how much compensation you might be awarded. The adjuster will also try to determine if you are responsible for any portion of the accident and then subtract this amount from the settlement.
Why Do I Need an Attorney to Settle a Claim?
Although you are not required to hire an attorney, there are several advantages to obtaining legal representation.
An attorney can assist with every aspect of the settlement process. He or she will gather evidence and prepare a demand package to the insurance company.
Your attorney will also handle all communications with the insurance company to prevent you from saying something that may affect your claim.
Experienced personal injury attorneys are also seasoned negotiators. Your attorney will use these skills to obtain a more favorable settlement on your behalf.
A personal injury lawyer also has extensive knowledge of New Jersey’s negligence laws, including the state’s statute of limitations and comparative negligence law. He or she will use this knowledge to make sure your case is filed on time and you are not assigned an unfair amount of blame for the accident.
Contact Lynch Law Firm, PC for a Free Consultation
If you were injured because of another’s negligence, it is important that you seek legal help from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The Lynch Law Firm, PC can help you with every stage of your personal injury claim, including the settlement process. We will analyze the extent of your damages and work to negotiate a settlement offer that covers the full extent of your injuries.
Call (800) 518-0508 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.