Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

What Does the Settlement Process Look Like?

What does it mean to reach a settlement in a personal injury case? What steps are involved and how long does it take to recover compensation following an automobile accident? There are many factors that can affect a car accident settlement, and there is no "one size fits all" answer to these questions. However, there are some common factors that parties to auto accident claims can expect as the process moves towards completion. In many cases we can settle a case rapidly once we get the hospital bills and in other cases, a few months. At times, litigation is necessary which makes for a longer period of time.

According to data collected by the US Department of Justice in 2005, between 95% and 96% of all personal injury cases filed in the US are settled outside of court, with approximately half settling prior to reaching trial. That statistic has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade. We usually only have to file about 10% of the cases in litigation. Usually, the more complicated fault cases and higher damage cases must be filed in suit to get a fair settlement.

The first step is to give notice to the insurance company's of a claim and then we try to write a settlement offer with a settlement brochure. If we cannot settle a case this way then we file a petition with the court. This outlines the facts of the case and identifies the party(ies) responsible for causing the personal injuries the plaintiff has sustained. It also includes notice of the compensation the plaintiff is seeking from the defendant(s). The court will then issue a summons to the defendant(s) which they must answer by either admitting, denying, or establishing legal reasons as their request to the court to dismiss the case. The defendant may also issue a counterclaim.

The next stage is fact finding and discovery. This involves gathering and reviewing evidence including eyewitness statements, police reports, medical records, etc. The purpose of discovery is to remove any doubt regarding the facts of the case and to establish the legitimacy of the plaintiff's claim. This phase is critical as it establishes the strength of the plaintiff's claim. This is called discovery.

When a plaintiff has a strong case, the defendant's insurance adjuster or legal representation may propose a settlement. When considering whether to make a settlement offer, the defendant's attorney will consider jury verdicts and outcomes in similar cases, the challenges in establishing their client's fault and liability, and whether the evidence presented by the plaintiff's attorney's is in dispute. When the plaintiff's attorney determines that they will likely lose if the case goes to trial, they will offer what they consider to be a fair and equitable settlement.

The settlement offer will take into account what the plaintiff is asking for, the comparative fault of all parties involved in the accident, the limits of the insurance policy held by the defendant, and the defendant's personal financial resources. The plaintiff will then review the offer with their attorney and can choose to accept, refuse, or issue a counteroffer. This negotiation process can go back and forth until an amount of compensation that is agreeable to all parties is reached.

There are several factors to keep in mind when negotiating for compensation in a personal injury case. First, it is critical to accurately calculate the immediate and known economic costs resulting from the accident. This means compiling an accurate accounting of financial damages including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, interest accrued, etc. When serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, loss of limb, or wrongful death are involved, it is even more important to correctly forecast the long-term damages and secure a settlement that won't leave the plaintiff responsible for covering these expenses out-of-pocket when they arise whether they're months, years, or decades down the road. In these larger cases, we will use life care experts and economists to project the future costs and losses.

Brad Pistotnik Law helps clients pursue fair and equitable compensation for their car accident claims in Wichita, Garden City, Liberal, Newton, Hutchinson, Colby, Atwood, Manhattan, Lawrence, Liberal, Dodge City, Topeka, Hutchinson, Olathe, Winfield, Kingman, Colby, and elsewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri. When pursuing settlement, we ensure our clients aren't left on the hook for the expenses caused by the negligence of other motorists.

We are Brad Pistotnik Law. ® We are Abogado El Toro. ® Hire the real Brad. ® Call in the Bull. ® We are the Bull Attorneys! ™ Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL. Our main office location is at 10111 E. 21st St. N., Suite 204, Wichita Kansas 67206. Our new second office is at 3102 E. Kansas Avenue, Suite 100, Garden City, Kansas 67846.