If you were injured in a St. Louis accident or another personal injury incident, you have the legal right to pursue a claim against the party who caused your injury. Parties who harmed someone through negligence, intentional torts, or other wrongdoing can be liable for that person’s damages.
Most personal injury cases settle through negotiations with an insurance provider or at-fault party. If the parties cannot agree to a settlement amount, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit. Even after filing a lawsuit, the parties could settle the case before trial.
Steps in the Negotiation Process of a Personal Injury Case in St. Louis, MO
Each personal injury claim is unique. Various factors determine the timeline and the outcome of the case. However, common steps in the negotiating process in personal injury cases include the following:
Complete Medical Treatment for Injuries
After an accident, seeking prompt medical treatment for injuries is crucial. Delays in medical care can cause problems in your case.
The injured party has the burden of proving that the other party’s actions or omissions caused their injuries. Therefore, you need medical records to link your injuries to the accident.
Your attorney will likely wait until you complete medical treatment to settle your case. Until your doctor completes your treatment and assesses your condition for permanent impairments, you cannot determine the severity of your injuries. The severity of your injuries directly impacts how much your case is worth.
File an Insurance Claim
While you recover from your injuries, your attorney will contact the other party’s insurance company to file a claim. For example, they will file a claim with the other driver’s automobile insurance company if you were injured in a car accident. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, your attorney might file a claim with the property owner’s liability insurance provider.
Receive a Reservation of Rights Letter
The insurance company may send you a Reservation of Rights letter. The letter acknowledges your potential claim. The company is merely protecting itself by informing you that it reserves the right to investigate the claim to determine if its insured is liable for your economic and non-economic damages.
Complete an Investigation to Gather Evidence
Your legal team will investigate your claim to determine how you were injured. The investigation serves several purposes.
First, it identifies all parties who contributed to the cause of your injury. Only parties who caused your injury are liable for your damages.
Second, your attorney will gather evidence to prove negligence. The elements of a negligence claim are:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
The evidence must prove that the other party’s acts were the direct and proximate cause of your injuries. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer might hire expert witnesses to assist with your case to strengthen the arguments.
Prepare a Settlement Demand Letter
Once your attorney concludes the investigation and you complete treatment, they will prepare a settlement demand letter.
The demand letter includes the following:
- The identity of the parties involved in the claim
- A summary of the facts of the case
- A legal analysis of why the party is liable for your damages
- An explanation of your injuries and damages
- The amount you agree to accept in settlement of your claim
The insurance company might make the first settlement offer. In either case, settlement negotiations begin when one party makes a settlement offer.
Negotiate a Settlement
The insurance company might deny the settlement offer. If so, it will likely make a counteroffer for a lower amount. If the counteroffer is fair, your lawyer might advise you to accept the amount.
However, most negotiations involve back-and-forth settlement discussions. Sometimes, the parties might agree to use a mediator to facilitate the settlement negotiations.
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the settlement process. They know to ask for a slightly higher amount than your damages are worth because the insurance company will counteroffer for a lower amount. Your lawyer also knows how much your claim is worth, so they know when an insurance offer is fair.
Your lawyer discusses all settlement offers with you because you have the final say on whether to accept the offer. The strength of your evidence and other factors can impact whether an offer is fair.
For example, if potential issues in your case could hurt you during a jury trial, you might agree to a slightly lower settlement offer instead of risking what a jury might decide. Your attorney helps you weigh the pros and cons of each settlement offer.
Sign a Settlement Agreement and Receive a Settlement Check
Once you accept a settlement amount, your attorney guides you through the process of signing a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement releases the other party from further liability for your claim. Your attorney receives the check, deducts the contingency fee, and issues you a net check to end the case.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer To Discuss the Negotiating Process
Our attorneys are skilled, aggressive negotiators and trial lawyers. We’ll fight for maximum compensation for your personal injury claim during every stage of your case. Call now for a free case evaluation with a St. Louis personal injury attorney.