Eventually, most personal injury cases in Georgia settle out of court. However, in most civil cases, “eventually” is a very long time. Insurance company lawyers drag their feet as much as possible. Every day that a settlement check stays in the insurance company’s bank account, the bank pays interest. Vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of people each year, and the average injury-related medical bill is over $50,000. Because of the volume and value of these claims, there is a lot of money at stake, and every day counts.
If possible, insurance company lawyers would gladly use legal loopholes and aggressive negotiating tactics to reduce or deny compensation to victims. Only a Marietta personal injury attorney levels the playing field. As a result, victims have a much better chance of obtaining the compensation they need and deserve. Damages in a car wreck case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.
If all key issues are clear, the claim often settles before an attorney files legal paperwork. In these situations, insurance companies have a legal duty to settle within a few weeks.
However, there’s almost always some question about a key issue in the case, usually liability or damages.
Basically, liability is the legal responsibility for the injury. Insurance company defenses, such as comparative fault, often come into play here. Basically, contributory negligence shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.
The insurance company’s contributory negligence or other defense might not be strong enough to hold up in court. At this point, that does not matter. If there is any comparative fault possibility, the insurance company will not settle.
Damages include both past and future losses. Prior medical bills and other economic losses are usually easy to determine. Future medical expenses are another matter. Once again, if there is any dispute at all, the insurance company will not settle. Or at least, the insurance company will not make a victim-friendly settlement offer.
Many cases settle at this point. When a Marietta personal injury attorney files legal paperwork, that move pressures the insurance company to settle the case. The pressure increases if, as is usually the case, the judge overrules the insurance company’s procedural motions and orders discovery.
During discovery, both sides must place all their cards face up on the table. The insurance company cannot conceal evidence or put up smokescreens. As the claims and defenses of each side become clearer, reasonable settlement is an increasing possibility.
Many cases settle late in the process, during mediation. A third-party mediator oversees settlement negotiations and ensures that both parties negotiate in good faith. A lowball offer is not a good-faith negotiating position. Neither is a take-it-or-leave-it offer. Instead, both sides must earnestly want to settle the claim, and they must be willing to make compromises to make that happen.
Mostly because of the good faith negotiating duty, civil mediation in Georgia is about 90% successful.