Settlements frequently make the headlines. Recently, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether employees can avoid repaying health benefits from the proceeds of a lawsuit or other settlement by spending the money first has been receiving a lot of attention from the press. All of this media attention demonstrates just how important settlement negotiations are in litigation.
It is important to note that, in personal injury cases, there really is no minimum or maximum settlement amount. How much a particular case is worth depends on several factors, including the injury/injuries and damages involved. It is important to be knowledgeable about all of the factors involved in settlement negotiations, as well as what your rights are in relationship to the attorney representing you. Most importantly, during these negotiations, know that your attorney is there to represent your best interests and help you achieve your goals.
Settlements Can Be made before or after a Lawsuit is filed
They can come in at any stage, as long as there has not yet been a verdict in the case.
Your Case Cannot Be Settled Without Your Permission
Settlement negotiations, like other areas of the law, are client-centered. Your attorney is obligated to consult you whenever there is an offer on the table from the opposing party. Your consent is also required prior to your attorney disclosing any information learned from settlement discussion to outside (third) parties.
Your Attorney is Paid When a Settlement or Verdict is reached
Because personal injury attorneys often work on a contingency fee basis, they are typically paid out of the settlement funds only once these are received.
Health Care Insurers Can Be Repaid For Bills Out of a Personal Injury Settlement
Typically, contracts with health insurance providers specified that the insurance company would be repaid for medical bills if the insured received a personal injury settlement. Surprisingly, in 2012, the Ninth Circuit held that, if the beneficiary had already spent the settlement money, the insurer could not collect these funds in Bilyeu v. Morgan Stanley Long Term Disability Plan. In March, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Montanile vs. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Plan to examine this issue of whether people who received personal injury settlements, but already spent the settlement funds on everyday living expenses, still have to pay insurers back. It is expected that the court will decide that healthcare insurers can indeed be repaid for costs out of settlement totals.
Children’s Settlement Funds are Independent
Pennsylvania courts require that a child’s settlement money go into a separate account (which is not accessible until they turn 18) and that the court approve the settlement. In doing so, the court also ensures that the settlement is in the best interests of the child.
The Benefits of Settling a Case
There are a number of benefits that can come from settling your case, and your attorney should discuss these with you. They can include saving money, time, and risk (in case a judge or jury ends up deciding against you).
Contact Solnick & Associates, LLC
If you or someone you know has been injured, you can rest assured that Solnick & Associates, LLC will go above and beyond to represent you in any potential litigation or settlement. Contact our office today so that we can go over your options and represent your best interests.