During almost every personal injury claim or case, the insurance company or party held responsible for the injury will make an offer of a settlement before the case goes to court. If you're hoping to stay out of court by accepting a settlement, you may be surprised and unsure of how to proceed if one isn't offered by the other party. Find out why some personal injury claims don't involve settlement offers and what options you still have for resolving the case.
Apparent Lack of Evidence
A lack of a settlement offer from an insurance company is almost always based on their assumption that they'll win easily if the case goes to court. However, don't assume your case is a lost cause just because of this. Many insurance companies and defendants in personal injury cases greatly overestimate their side of the case and mistakenly assume they'll win in cases that are far from a closed book. This is especially true if you're still gathering evidence and have found compelling facts that the other side isn't aware of yet. For example, an insurance company may check the details on a car accident and decide that the low speed of both drivers makes a serious injury unlikely. Yet many people have suffered serious or disabling injuries even at low speeds and have gone on to win their personal injury claims after no settlement offers.
Tort law is complex because it's not always just a case of proving negligence. According to state and federal law, there are many ways for certain types of companies and individuals to avoid being held liable for personal injuries. For example, the exclusivity rule of the Worker's Compensation Act requires that employees injured at work only take what's offered by the worker's comp policy and not sue for additional compensation. If this is the case, you will likely not receive a settlement offer if you try to pursue a claim.
In many states, the tort laws that control how personal injury claims are handled consider it an act of bad faith for a insurance company or other defendant not to offer some kind of settlement arrangement. However, you may be required by your state to make a request for a settlement offer or an offer of your own that would satisfy your demands and close the case, before the rule of bad faith is invoked. It's essential to check your state's specific laws regarding settlement offers before assuming you have a secondary claim of bad faith against the defendant in your personal injury case. An accusation of bad faith is a good way to get a settlement offer to materialize, but only if you're correct in your assertion.
Just because no settlement offer arrives in the mail doesn't mean your options are exhausted. There's no need to receive a settlement to go to court, and a lack of a settlement offer is no guarantee you will lose if you bring the case to court. You are allowed, and in some cases may even be required, to make a request for a settlement than just relying on the defendant or insurance company to do so. Many people who are injury victims don't talk to a personal injury lawyer at first because they're planning just to take the first settlement offer received. Even if you only want a settlement to get the claim over with quickly, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after the injury. They can help you get a better settlement offer from the very beginning or make sure you're getting one at all by helping you file a settlement request.
Contact a law firm like Spooner & Perkins P.C. Attorneys at Law for additional information.