When do I settle?

Personal Injury Law with Stacey England, Burchell MacDougall LLP

The question of when or when not to consider settling a lawsuit is of particular concern in most personal injury cases, especially when the largest part of damages claims consist of pain and suffering, loss of income, housekeeping expenses, cost of future treatment and out of pocket expenses.

From the point of view of the injured party, who is usually in need of money because of the losses they have suffered after the accident, the balance is between a speedy settlement and making sure the settlement is a fair reflection of the damages they have suffered.

A truly ‘fair’ settlement can only be determined by time and information. It’s common in personal injury cases for the injured party to be uncertain for months, or even years, as to the full extent of their recovery. A hasty and ill-informed settlement may leave them with money in hand but it will not cover the actual losses they may suffer over the long term.

The job of an experienced personal injury lawyer is to determine what medical information will provide a reliable assessment of the value of the claim, including all damages that may persist and accumulate into the future.

A fair settlement takes into consideration issues of fault or liability. The injured party has to consider the risk of not being able to establish fault, and they may want to consider compromising their settlement position in recognition of this risk.

For example, they may have reliable evidence and law to support a basic settlement amount of $100,000, based on the injuries sustained. However, if the realistic probability of establishing fault of the other party is just 50%, it is sensible to compromise on that figure rather than risk not getting any monetary award at all.

Even if fault can be established, there may be reductions to a damages claim made by the court based on factors like contributory negligence and future contingencies, which will also inform an experienced personal injury lawyer in determining a sound settlement position.

Fundamentally, if you are injured in an accident and you think you have a claim, you should not accept any settlement offer until you have reviewed the offer, and your own personal circumstances, with a lawyer experienced in the practice of personal injury law.

This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer.

Stacey England is a personal injury lawyer with Burchell MacDougall LLP’s Elmsdale office located at Suite 205 in MacMillan Centre, 550 Highway #2.