If someone gets injured by another person or party’s negligent behaviors, the victim could recover financial compensation through a personal injury settlement agreement. This is a legally binding contract that the parties involved enter into voluntarily. It states that the victim (plaintiff) is renouncing all rights to hold the defendant liable for further damage associated with the same accident or act of negligence, typically in exchange for a monetary award that the parties have agreed is fair. Learn more about settlement agreements in New Mexico to protect your legal rights as an accident victim.
How Does a Settlement Agreement Work?
A settlement agreement typically involves negotiations between the plaintiff’s attorney and the defense attorney or an insurance claims adjuster. Negotiations may be informal, such as the insurance company making an offer in writing or over the phone and the plaintiff submitting a counteroffer until a fair settlement is reached. It can also involve alternative dispute resolutions, such as mediation or arbitration. A personal injury case can reach a settlement agreement at any time before the date of a trial.
The vast majority of personal injury cases achieve settlement agreements. This is because civil litigation in a court of law can be expensive and time-consuming. It is also risky, as neither party can control the outcome of a personal injury trial. Both parties are typically interested in achieving a case resolution as quickly as possible after an accident via settlement instead. They can negotiate, mediate and arbitrate as much as they wish to achieve a settlement agreement before taking an unresolved case to trial.
What Is a Release Waiver?
A personal injury settlement agreement will end with a release of liability waiver. This legal document, prepared and provided by the defense attorney, details the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement. It states the amount for which the case is being settled, as well as a statement that by signing, the victim has agreed not to pursue additional compensation from the defendant for the specific injury involved in the claim. It may also include other information and fine print deemed appropriate by the defense. Always have an attorney carefully review the language of a liability waiver before you sign. It is signed before a notary.
Can You Reopen a Personal Injury Case After a Settlement?
In general, you cannot reopen a case after reaching a settlement agreement and signing a release of liability waiver. These actions close your case for good, with only rare exceptions, such as if there was an issue with the liability waiver. Agreeing to a settlement essentially forfeits your right to pursue further legal action, including renegotiating for more compensation – even if you discover later that your injuries will cost more money than you originally thought.
What Is the Average Value of a Personal Injury Settlement Agreement?
You cannot determine the value of your personal injury case by looking for averages. Every case is unique. Some claimants have recovered millions of dollars in their settlement agreements while others receive $10,000 or less for their losses. While some websites place average settlement amounts between $3,000 and $75,000, there is no accurate way to estimate how much your case is worth on your own. Instead, bring your case to a personal injury lawyer for an in-depth analysis. A lawyer will give you a case evaluation that you can trust after carefully assessing all of the facts, such as the extent of your injuries and the insurance coverage available.
When to Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney
Always speak to an attorney before signing any type of settlement agreement. You can trust the advice and information that an attorney gives you to serve your best interest. Unlike an insurance company, your lawyer will share your goals and want to maximize your financial recovery. Having an attorney represent you during settlement negotiations can ensure a fair case outcome. For more information about personal injury settlement agreements in New Mexico, request a free consultation at the Fine Law Firm.