Have You Been Injured by Someone Else’s Negligence?

If you have been injured in Southern California because another person was negligent, let an Orange County personal injury attorney review your case, explain your rights, and fight on your behalf for the compensation that you are entitled to by California law.

Anyone can be injured in a traffic crash, a slip-and-fall accident, or another accident scenario. If you and your lawyer can prove that someone else’s negligence is the reason you were injured, you may recover compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

How are most personal injury cases resolved in California? Will your case go to trial? What should you know about out-of-court personal injury settlements in this state? Keep reading this brief discussion of personal injury settlements and your rights for the answers you may need.

How Are Most Personal Injury Cases Resolved?

The first thing to know about personal injury claims is how they are resolved. Personal injury trials can generate considerable aggravation and anxiety and take a substantial amount of time and money. However, filing a personal injury claim may not necessarily lead to a courtroom trial.

An out-of-court settlement happens when both sides in a personal injury case agree voluntarily to resolve their dispute without a court’s intervention. Out-of-court settlements give both parties a say in the case’s outcome.

More than ninety percent of personal injury claims are resolved with an out-of-court agreement reached through alternative, out-of-court dispute resolution procedures, so most personal injury victims don’t even have to make a courtroom appearance.

What Are the Alternatives to a Personal Injury Trial?

There are a number of different alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures, including:

  1.  private negotiation
  2.  neutral evaluation
  3.  conciliation
  4.  mediation
  5.  arbitration

How Does Private Negotiation Work?

Every dispute resolution procedure involves some negotiation, but informal private negotiations are how many personal injury disputes are resolved.

If you’ve been injured in Southern California, immediately upon agreeing to handle your case, your Orange County personal injury lawyer will seek to start private negotiations with the alleged liable party.

Private negotiations are an attempt to settle a personal injury claim with written correspondence or face-to-face meetings with all parties that are involved. Private negotiations are more flexible and less formal than the other alternative dispute resolution procedures and methods.

What is Neutral Evaluation? What is Conciliation?

In a neutral evaluation, both sides present their case to a neutral, objective third party, who is usually an expert in the subject matter. The third party then makes a non-binding decision after evaluating the case and assessing the merits of both sides’ claims.

A neutral evaluation reduces the time and cost that a personal injury case requires. Conciliation is similar to neutral evaluation. A third party, the conciliator, considers the cases presented by both sides and recommends a non-binding solution that will work for both parties.

What is Mediation?

Many personal injury lawyers and even insurance companies now regularly resort to mediation. Like conciliation, a neutral, objective third party is chosen to facilitate mediation, but unlike conciliation, that third party, called a mediator, does not propose a resolution or settlement.

Mediators are usually attorneys or retired judges – persons with professional legal and mediation experience. A mediator works with both parties and helps the parties to reach their own settlement, but the mediator makes no rulings or decisions and usually offers little or no advice.

Mediation is entirely voluntary; it only takes place if both sides agree. Mediation is also non-binding, so a resolution is final only if both sides agree to it.

How Does Arbitration Work?

Arbitration is more formal than other ADR methods. In fact, arbitration is similar to a courtroom trial. The may be a single arbitrator or an arbitration panel.

Many personal injury claims in California are settled by arbitrators, who are trained to review evidence and resolve personal injury cases. Unlike mediators and negotiators, arbitrators make decisions in personal injury cases.

If negotiations, conciliation, or mediation do not resolve a personal injury claim, or if either side rejects an arbitrator’s decision, the case will go to civil court, and a personal injury trial will be conducted.

What Else Should You Know About Out-of-Court Settlements?

Along with the various types of alternative dispute resolutions, you should know three more important facts about out-of-court settlements in personal injury cases:

  1.  An out-of-court settlement agreement constitutes a contract between the plaintiff (the injured victim) and the defendant (the liable party). Contracts define the rights and obligations of each party, and a contract may be enforced by the courts.
  2.  Trial records are public documents, but out-of-court settlement details are usually considered confidential. You may need an out-of-court settlement if you want your financial details to remain private.
  3.  Your settlement (or part of it) may be taxable. If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, and your claim prevails, you will pay no taxes on the compensation for your physical injury or injuries.

However, IRS rules require injuries in personal injury cases to be “visible,” so if you recover damages for suffering and emotional distress, or if you receive punitive damages, that portion of your compensation will be considered income and will be taxable.

When Should You Contact a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you are injured by another person’s negligence in Southern California, act quickly and contact an Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as you have been treated for your injury or injuries.

A good personal injury lawyer will explain and protect your rights, investigate the accident that injured you, question the witnesses, and fight for the justice and compensation that you are entitled to by California law, but you must contact that attorney promptly.

Your attorney needs to examine any evidence before it deteriorates or disappears, and your attorney needs to speak with any witnesses before their memories fade. California gives you two years from the date of your injury (or one year from the date of your injury’s discovery) to take legal action, but you can’t wait one or two years. It’s best to contact an attorney at once.

How Should You Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Our award-winning team of attorneys at Gibson & Hughes has decades of experience fighting – and prevailing – for those who have been injured by another party’s negligence. No sum of cash can change what has happened, but our clients are entitled to compensation for their losses.

If you are injured because another person was negligent, or if you’re injured by another person’s negligence in the future, contact an Orange County personal injury lawyer at Gibson & Hughes by immediately calling 714-547-8377 and scheduling a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

If you take legal action, you will owe no lawyer’s fee to Gibson & Hughes unless and until our legal team recovers compensation on your behalf.