When it comes to settling a car accident case in Charleston, an experienced injury attorney will be your strongest ally in pursuing the best outcome possible. There can be a lot of different factors to consider, and having the perspective and advice of an attorney at your disposal can improve your odds of making the best decision. Such a lawyer will guide and advise you as to the wisest course of action each step of the way.
Reasons to Settle a Case
The most common reason to settle a case rather than to go to trial is that the settlement offer is within a jury verdict range of what one might expect a jury to come back with if they try the case. There is risk on both sides. There is risk to both the injured person as well as the insurance company in going to trial and settling a case eliminates the risk.
The risk of not filing a case can sometimes be too great. Once a lawyer begins to prepare their case for trial, a number of things happen. One of the important things that happens is costs go up and as the costs go up, the net settlement to the client goes down. If a person turns down a fair offer of settlement and costs go up to litigate it and get it to trial and the jury comes back for an amount that was less than the amount offered then that is a loss. The person should have taken the money and that is one of the biggest reasons to settle a case. The risk of not settling is just too high.
Reasons to Refuse a Settlement Offer and Go to Trial
Sometimes an insurance company just digs its heels in and refuses to offer any money. Sometimes those cases are all or nothing. Either the person is going to lose and get nothing, or they will win and recover a lot in damages. Those are high-risk cases. Even though it is usually later on in litigation, an offer will be forthcoming, but sometimes an insurance company just does not give the person a choice and offers them no money. If the lawyer and the client believe in the case then it is time to do the work and start building their case, instead of settling.
There are many options available for a car accident settlement in Charleston. If the settlement dollar amount has been agreed upon by both the injured person and the liability insurance carrier it works as follows.
If the injury in question is relatively non-catastrophic and there is a basis for the settlement, then the client is given the net settlement proceeds, after the attorney’s fees and costs are withdrawn.
It is very different however when a minor is involved. In South Carolina, the courts do not put cash in the hands of minors and typically they do not put cash in the hands of the parents of the minor, especially if the sum in question is a large one.
One option that is available in those circumstances is a structured settlement. In a structured settlement, the present value is deposited with an accredited financial institution who manages those funds and an agreed upon amount is given to the minor upon the minor reaching the age of maturity.
The full sum can be given to the minor at age 18 or, because a lot of times 18-year-old people are less as prudent than they will be in their 20s and in their 30s, the money is given to the minor periodically throughout their adulthood, but usually not later than age 30 or so under a structured settlement.
Useful Information for Initial Meeting
A person who has an appointment to speak with a lawyer about an automobile accident should bring any and all paper that has anything to do with either the accident or the property damage to the car, the injuries, and medical treatment
If possible, they should also bring the vehicle itself that was in the accident. If it is not a in driving condition, then the next best thing is to bring photographs of the vehicle. They also should bring a copy of their driver’s license.
The paperwork for medical treatment and property damage, as well as photographs of the vehicle and the FR-10 proof of insurance form are some of the most important things that a person needs to bring to the meeting to talk with a lawyer about a car accident that will factor into the settlement considerations in Charleston.
Proof of Insurance
Importantly, there is a form that is given to every driver involved in an automobile accident called an FR-10, which is a proof of insurance form.
A driver has 14 days to fill that out, regardless of fault. It has to be filled out and the driver must prove to their insurance agent that they have insurance from the date of the accident. If this is not done, then the person’s driver’s license can be suspended.
How an Attorney Can Help
The question of who gets to decide whether the case settles or not is solely in the hands of the client, the injured person. However, it is the job of the lawyer to analyze the case and come up with a jury verdict range – a low range on a bad day and a high range on a good day. If the settlement offer is within that range, the attorney will recommend it.
When it comes to the various factors of settling a Charleston car accident case, it is the attorney’s job to determine and recommend the best course of action available to the client based on the facts of the case. In addition, an experienced lawyer will be qualified to guide and advise the client each step of the way.