Personal injury cases are generally pursued because you need compensation to help you pay the bills resulting from your accident. This means that, in an ideal situation, you would receive payment right away. However, once you contact an attorney, you’ll have to wait through research, discovery, court filings, and more, since Indiana law only dictates that cases must be filed within the statute of limitations and does not dictate how soon they must be settled. One way to save some time and expense is by reaching a settlement prior to the court case. Settling may seem tempting as your case drags on for months or even years. However, you should proceed with caution, as settlements may be offered by the defense to save them money in the long run.
What is a Settlement Agreement?
A settlement agreement is a written document which details the compromise reached by the parties involved. The exact content of the agreement will vary depending on the details of the case, but most settlement agreements include financial compensation for the plaintiff in exchange for a release of any further liability for the defendant. Settlement agreements are legal documents, so you should review any settlement offered very carefully before signing.
A settlement agreement can be proposed by either party. You may elect to offer a settlement agreement if you prefer to end the case sooner in order to receive compensation needed to pay bills or simply to put an end to attorney expenses. The defense may offer a settlement in order to relieve their own attorney expenses or because settling out of court might result in a lower payoff.
Factors to Consider
If you need to pay bills or are uncertain about your chances in court, you may be considering a settlement agreement. However, there are some important things to consider before signing a settlement offered to you.
Who is at fault? Indiana is a comparative fault state, which means that any compensation you pursue can be reduced by the degree to which you are at fault. So, for example, if you are found to be 20 percent at fault while seeking $1,000 in compensation, you’ll only receive $800. Your degree of fault may help you to determine whether or not the settlement agreement is fair.
What is the payment arrangement? If you need cash to pay bills now, a settlement agreement offering a structured settlement may not be right for you. On the other hand, a lump sum payment can make it difficult to budget for any future expenses resulting from the accident.
What restrictions are placed on future liability? It is common for settlement agreements to release the defendant from future liability related to this specific case. However, you should watch closely for vague wording that might exempt any party from liability or prevent you from pursuing damages against the same party if a different accident occurs in the future.
Contact an Attorney
Your experienced personal injury attorney like those at Truitt Law Offices can help you to decide whether or not a settlement agreement is appropriate in your case. Do not sign a settlement agreement without consulting with an attorney. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.