Padilla Law Group, LLP
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Should I settle my accident case or go to trial?

After your accident, you may have spent a lot of your recovery thinking about how to pay for your medical care. While your insurance may have covered some of the costs, you may also have out-of-pocket expenses that have crippled your budget. Additionally, there is the principle of the thing if the accident that caused your injuries was the result of someone else's negligence or recklessness.

If you have decided to seek compensation for your injuries through a civil lawsuit, you may find yourself weighing an offer of settlement from a representative of your opponent. It may even seem like a generous sum, one that would certainly make a dent in your bills. However, before you accept a settlement offer, be certain you understand the legal ramifications.

The best path to take

If you accept a settlement, it means that you agree to end the lawsuit that relates to the accident and your injuries. You will not be able to pursue further action against the defendant or ask for more money after you agree to the settlement. Because of this, it is wise to seek legal advice before accepting a check or signing any papers. Some questions you may want to ask include the following:

  • How strong is your case?
  • What are the weaknesses in the defendant's case?
  • Will your case be too challenging to try in court?
  • What are your chances of winning more money if your case goes to trial?
  • How does this settlement offer compare to others, and to jury verdicts, in similar situations?
  • Will the settlement sufficiently cover what your case is worth, including the cost of future care you may need for your injuries?
  • Even if you win at trial, will the defendant be able to pay if a jury awards a larger amount?

There are numerous other concerns, including the obligation to pay taxes on your settlement or award, and the fee for your California attorney. You may want to accept the settlement to avoid the publicity of a trial or because you prefer to protect your privacy from the often-prying questions that may arise during the discovery phase of the trial.

Your attorney will likely have experience with opposing counsel and can advise you on whether you will be able to negotiate successfully or face harsh tactics in the courtroom. Either way, the defendant's attorney is not looking out for your good, but instead only works to protect his or her own client. Your counsel is the one to rely on for advice that seeks your best interests.

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