You've been injured in an accident, and you're suing to recover for your damages.
As you may have realized already, the odds of your lawsuit making it all the way to trial are slim. In fact, most personal injury settlements are settled long before trial.
Since your lawsuit is likely to be resolved through settlement, you should know how to negotiate a settlement agreement. Here are some tips:
- Know what you want before going in. You must be prepared and you should not use settlement negotiations as a time to figure out what it is you hope to gain. Think about the injuries you have suffered, tally up your medical bills, and think about how the injury has impacted your day-to-day life. Put a dollar figure on this or talk to your attorney to help monetize the injuries. This dollar amount should be your goal in negotiations.
- Have a backup plan. The reality is that it may be difficult to get exactly what you want in settlement negotiations. As a result, you should have a backup plan that is basically the minimum that you are willing to accept before walking away.
- Don't reveal your backup plan. Never tell the other side your "walking away" number. If you do, that will likely be the number you get, even if you could have received more.
- Don't rush to make decisions. If you are too eager to please, or if you're an inexperienced negotiator, you may want an attorney on your side to advocate for you. Too often, inexperienced negotiators accept the first deal they get.
- Remember, settlement negotiations shouldn't be too adversarial. Sure, you may hate your opponent when you head into settlement talks. However, keep in mind that this is a time to work together and reach a solution before going to court. An adversarial bargaining table is unlikely to lead to positive results.
- Resolution Before Trial: Settlement (FindLaw)
- Should I Accept an Insurance Settlement for My Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Top 7 Tips for Settlement Talks (FindLaw's Injured)