Personal Injury Settlements: Myths vs. Reality

If you are injured because another person acted carelessly or recklessly in Arizona, you have two avenues through which you can pursue compensation for your expenses and losses. The first involves taking your case before a judge or jury and seeking a favorable verdict. The other avenue is negotiating a personal injury settlement.

Before you can decide which avenue is right for you, it’s important to understand how each option works. Both trials and settlements are clouded by myths and misinformation that can make it difficult to get an accurate picture of what each entails.

Here are five common myths about personal injury settlements that you need to know:

Myth 1: You Will Always Be Offered a Reasonable Settlement

Given that personal injury settlements are commonplace, it is easy to believe that the other party will offer you a settlement in your case as well. While there is a good chance this will happen, it is critical to remember that the other party isn’t required to extend any settlement offer to you, no matter how serious the facts of your case or how extensive their potential liability is.

In the same way, you are not under any obligation to accept any settlement offer that is made to you. Not every at-fault party will offer you a settlement, and not every settlement offer you receive will adequately compensate you for the harm you suffered.

If you and your attorney cannot reach a satisfactory agreement with the other party, you can decide to take your case to trial and seek compensation through the courts.

Myth 2: You Can Sue If Your Settlement Wasn’t Enough

A typical personal injury settlement involves the other party paying you an agreed-upon sum of money that compensates you for expenses you already sustained and future losses you might incur. In agreeing to receive a specific sum of money, you are also agreeing to give up any future legal right to additional compensation you might have.

As a result, once you agree to the terms of your settlement, you are unable to reopen your case to pursue additional damages against the party with whom you reached your settlement. If there are no other at-fault parties you can sue, and your settlement does not address all of your costs, you could be left having to address this shortfall through other means.

Myth 3: You Can Always Sue If You Can’t Reach a Settlement

While you generally can sue the other party if you can’t come to an agreement on a settlement value, this right comes with a large caveat. You can only sue if the statute of limitations has not yet expired on your claim. Certain events can stop the statute of limitations from running, but trying to negotiate a settlement is not one of those events.

Arizona’s personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of your incident. This period begins to run the day you are hurt and typically continues to run uninterrupted until the period expires. If this time runs out before you file your lawsuit in court, you are generally barred from seeking any compensation for your injuries through the court.

Therefore, when attempting to settle your car accident or personal injury case, you will want to always be mindful of how much time you have left to file a lawsuit.

Myth 4: A Settlement Always Offers Less Than a Trial Verdict

Some injury victims believe that they can never get as much compensation through a settlement as they could through a trial. As a result, they may turn down an otherwise reasonable settlement offer in pursuit of the larger trial verdict. However, you cannot measure the value of a settlement solely by looking at the bottom line.

One of the chief benefits that a settlement offers that a trial cannot is certainty. A settlement is a legally binding contract that the at-fault party is obligated to follow. If the other party attempts to back out of the agreement, you simply sue to enforce the agreement. 

Conversely, if you take your case to trial without reaching a settlement, the outcome is often uncertain. The court could side with you, or it could decide you did not sufficiently prove your case. If the court doesn’t side with you, you could be left with no compensation at all — and no avenue for pursuing additional compensation.

Another benefit of settlements is the speed with which cases are resolved. It can take months or years for a case to reach trial, but a settlement can be reached in a matter of a few weeks or months. Having settlement funds in hand quickly can be worth significantly more to many injury victims compared to having to wait months or years to receive a potentially larger court award.

Myth 5: You Do Not Need a Lawyer To Reach a Settlement

Legally, there is no law that requires you to work through an Arizona personal injury lawyer to reach a settlement. However, having an attorney representing you offers numerous benefits that you do not receive if you represent yourself. 

Specifically, your lawyer can:

  • Represent you and your interests in all settlement talks
  • Help you calculate a settlement amount that will adequately address your needs
  • Negotiate the terms of your settlement agreement 
  • Concurrently work to prepare your lawsuit for filing if settlement talks do not pan out

You may be tempted to forego having a lawyer help you with your settlement for a number of reasons. But, having an attorney by your side can alleviate significant pressure at a sensitive time in your life and give you your best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.

The Truth About Personal Injury Settlements in Arizona

There are many misconceptions about settlements in Arizona. For many victims hurt in personal injury accidents, settlements can provide the compensation they need to move forward. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you discover the best way to protect both your rights and your future.

Contact the Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers at Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in an accident in Phoenix, AZ, and need legal help, contact our Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.

Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers
1221 E Osborn Rd. Suite 201
Phoenix, AZ 85014
(602) 595-5559