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After an Accident: Should I Accept an Out of Court Settlement?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 02, 2015 7:01 AM

There are a few ways to resolve a personal injury claim after an accident. Insurance could cover medical expenses, or a case could go to trial and a jury could issue a verdict and monetary award. The majority of cases, however, are concluded with an out of court settlement.

Often, these settlements are negotiated by attorneys from both sides. But what happens if the other party, or their attorney, contacts you directly, or before you've hired your own attorney? Should you accept an out of court settlement?

Accepting a settlement directly from the other party or without consulting an attorney can be risky -- here are a few things to keep in mind:

Is It the Best Deal?

Not all of us are experts in settlement negotiation. And if the other party, their attorneys, or the insurance company is offering you a settlement, it's hard to know whether the settlement offer is fair.

The prospect of going toe-to-toe with an insurance adjuster or lawyer can be an intimidating prospect, which is why it's a good idea to have your own representation during any settlement negotiations. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on the reasonableness of a settlement offer and negotiate on your behalf.

Will It Be Enforceable?

Even if you've agreed to a settlement, enforcing it may be another matter entirely. You'd like to get paid, but you need to make sure the settlement agreement is enforceable in court.

There are a few reasons why a court might not accept a settlement, and if there are problems in the settlement agreement, it may be more difficult to get the other party to pay later on.

Can You Change It Later?

People and circumstances can change. And there may be good reasons to want to back out of a settlement agreement. If you accept an out of court settlement agreement on your own, you may not be able to back out or alter it later.

If you're considering an out-of-court settlement, an experienced attorney may be able to help with the settlement process and protect your rights and interests.

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