Settlements
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Crime Victims Frequently Asked Questions: Settlements

HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE

  1. Does every case go to trial or will I get a settlement?

Most cases settle according to our personal statistics, but crime victim cases can be very difficult to prove and much will depend upon the ruling of the trial court Judge with regard to the existence of a duty owed to you.

Settlements depend upon a thousand different factors – how far along you are in your treatment, whether your injury is minor or severe, whether we can prove fault easily on your case or it will be more difficult. Even the COVID-19 virus stopped court rooms from seeing cases and setting trials, which has delayed things dramatically.

But, statistics used to show most cases settled within 1 year and almost all by 2 years. While that might sound like an eternity, it really isn’t. Especially when it comes to big money transactions like personal injury settlements.

  1. Why is a settlement taking so long?

Investigations take time when money is involved.

Insurance companies have many levels of hierarchy and each level must get approval to make any settlement offer. This requires a full investigation and full disclosure to each boss at every stage of the case.

Whenever money is involved (and this includes settlements), the insurance company wants to make certain it is deserved. They will check for fraud. They will check and see if your injuries can be blamed on something that happened in your past; or something that happened after your fall.

This includes poring over your medical records before and after your injury. It might include talking to your doctor or another reviewing doctor to look over your medical records.

They will want to ask why this event occurred.

And they will want to see if the business landowner truly did something unreasonable that caused you to be attacked or hurt by a criminal. That includes talking to witnesses.

All of this takes time. And your patience. But, if you hang in there, most people find it was worth the wait.

Also, courts tend to set deadlines far in advance and attorneys use all of the available time for each stage of a case (ask me about the typical stages of a lawsuit).

  1. When will you ask for a settlement?

If you are done treating medically and we have not filed a lawsuit, we will ask for settlement once your medical condition is stabilized and we have all of your medical records and bills.

HOW MUCH WILL I GET

  1. How much money do you ask for in a settlement?

Settlement demands are more like “art” than “science.” It depends upon many different factors. We are trying to guess what a jury would do if they heard your case in a court of law and had to calculate a verdict. As you know, predicting the future is very difficult. But, there are certain factors we see over and over that provide us a framework for the amount – including similar injury cases we have handled.

  1. Do the lawyers decide upon the settlement amount or do I get a say in the amount?

We always, always consult with you before making any settlement demand. While we might talk “round numbers” with opposing lawyers outside your presence, you are the “boss” of your settlement.

You decide and must sign paperwork showing you agreed to a settlement. It is done in writing each and every time. Emails can suffice; the important thing is your consent is necessary and must be in writing before we agree to ANY settlement.

  1. Will I get to know how much you will ask for before you ask for a settlement?

Yes, we keep you informed of each settlement demand each offer made in response.

  1. How much of the settlement will I get?

You will receive the total of the settlement amount with deductions for:

  • Attorney Fees;
  • Litigation expense (like expert witness fees; court costs; deposition transcriptions, etc.)
  • And any unpaid liens (entities that paid your medical bills or hospital liens).

The remaining money is all yours.

  1. Is the settlement amount based on medical bills and lost wages? Can I get more?

A settlement amount is based upon a prediction of what a jury would award if there was a jury verdict. This includes more than just medical bills, including lost prior wages and future wages, disfigurement, permanency of the injury, mental anguish (often called pain and suffering), and inability to function as a whole person.

While a jury does NOT calculate these according to a strict mathematical formula, there are ways to attempt to estimate what the value of each of the factors could be.

Our goal is to maximize your recovery.

  1. My friend told me the attorney gets most of the settlement money, is that true?

No, that is NEVER true.

Even if your unpaid medical liens exist, we make certain that our fees and expenses do not EVER exceed your recovery.

That’s our 100% guarantee to you receiving full justice.

  1. So what comes out of the settlement?

The deductions from a settlement include:

  • Attorney Fees (sliding scale based upon stage of case);
  • Litigation expense (like expert witness fees; filing fees in court; deposition transcriptions, etc.)
  • And any unpaid liens (entities that paid your medical bills or hospital liens).

The remaining money is all yours.

See our previous link (here) for what to do immediately after a fall to help get a settlement fairly and quickly.

A very general rule of thumb is you usually recover about 50% (or half) of the total settlement.

  1. Do medical bills or attorney fees get paid separately later in a different settlement?

No. A settlement is a one-time deal that includes all things to be deducted as explained above. Any outstanding medical bills must be paid from your portion of the settlement (or your choice to pay or not pay is yours to make).

  1. Does a Judge or Jury decide how much money I get at a trial?

If your case goes to a jury trial, the jury makes the determination of what amount would be fair under the circumstances. A Judge can add or subtract if she finds it to be unfair or unreasonable based upon the evidence heard, but that is a very rare occurrence.

  • American Association for Justice
  • Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Avvo 10.0 Rating
  • AVVO Client's Choice Award 2017

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VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS

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