To Settle Or Not To Settle – That is the Question!
Settling a claim for personal injury * before it reaches court
It is not uncommon for a case to be settled and compensation agreed outside of court. Generally before that happens, the first step in making a claim for compensation is to apply to the Injuries Board. The types of personal injury claims * that are made through the injuries board first are, for example, personal injury claims * for car accidents, accidents at work * or accidents in a public place * (slip/trip or fall). An exception to this rule is that medical negligence claims * are not made through the Injuries Board first, these are taken straight to court. The standard outcome is that you or the other party agree to, or reject, the compensation amount suggested by the Injuries Board. In cases where the amount is rejected, then court proceedings are issued. Once legal proceedings are issued, then come the legal formalities which your personal injury solicitor * will talk you through before advising you of your court date.
What does ‘Settlement’ mean?
The term ‘settlement’ is used to describe the resolution of a legal dispute, like a claim for a personal injury against somebody, before the matter is brought to court. In the case of a settlement outside of court, the person making the claim is offered a sum of money from the defendant (person at fault) before the matter is heard by a court. If the person making the claim accepts the sum of money offered, then the case is settled and there is no need for it to proceed to a court hearing. Essentially, you are agreeing to conclude your case and claim before it reaches court. At any stage of the personal injury claim * process and legal proceedings, the defendant (person at fault) may seek to ‘settle’ the case before it is brought to court.
How is a Settlement decided?
Settling the case normally involves your legal advisors speaking to the defendant’s legal advisors and negotiating a settlement on your behalf. Your legal advisors will advise you as to the adequacy of a settlement and whether it is in your best interest. Settlement negotiations always take place on a ‘without prejudice’ basis which essentially means that the court cannot be advised of the content of those negotiations if the matter fails to settle.
Settlement Vs Going to Court
Your solicitor help you come to a decision as to whether to settle or not. Settling a case before it reaches courts does have its pros and cons. Settling outside of court:
- can be a quicker process that waiting for a court date
- can be less stressful for the person making the personal injury claim *, and,
- the settlement amount offered by the defendant could be higher than what the court might award to you.
You must also remember that, as it is difficult to predict what a court will award as compensation, there is a chance that the settlement amount could be less than what a court might award to you. Weighing up your options is something that you should not have to do on your own, your personal injury * solicitor will help you come to a decision.
It is important to note that if you settle outside of court that this decision closes your case and claim and you cannot, for example, advise a few months or years later that your personal injury * is worse and that you now want to claim further monies.
It is important that you have the right solicitor on your side to take these considerations into account for you and help you decide whether the case should be settled outside of court or not. With over 30 years’ experience in personal injury claims *, Tracey Solicitors, will walk you through each stage of the claims process. For a confidential chat, please feel free to call Elaine Hickey, Personal Injury * Solicitor, on 01 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.