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In a sizeable number of bus accident cases, the injury victim will receive at least one settlement offer from the negligent bus driver’s insurance company. This settlement offer will likely offer to resolve the case entirely in exchange for the insurance company making a certain payment to the victim as compensation. Settlements also often contain terms that require the victim to abstain from filing any additional lawsuits against the bus company or bus driver because of the accident, that indicate that neither the bus company nor the bus driver (nor the insurance company) are admitting any fault.
Sometimes settlement offers can be insulting: the offer is too low or the terms are too unpalatable to accept. Other times a settlement offer can arrive right when money is tight and you need to pay your bills. How do you decide whether a settlement offer is right for you?
Evaluating the Settlement Agreement
At the very least, you should enlist the help of a friend or loved one to help you review any settlement offer. Preferably, you should discuss a settlement offer you receive with your bus accident lawyer as he or she can advise you as to your legal rights and the legal consequences of agreeing to the settlement.
In evaluating the settlement, consider:
- The actual terms of the settlement. What rights are you giving up or foregoing if you were to accept the settlement? Does the idea of keeping the terms of the settlement secret or the fact that no one would admit fault bother you?
- Your case’s worth and its settlement value. In other words, determine what you might get out of the case if you proceeded to trial and how strong of a case you have. Also determine your “bottom line” – the minimum amount of compensation you are requesting for your bus accident injuries. Does the settlement amount exceed your bottom line? If so, by how much?
- The terms of payment. One of the advantages of settlements is that you typically receive money quicker than if you were to litigate the case. However, settlement agreements may contain terms allowing the defendant to pay out over several years. Make sure you understand when payments will begin, how often they will be made and in what amount, and what your rights are if a payment is missed.
- Your own time considerations and priorities. Only you know what is in your best interest and what would best benefit you and your family. If the idea of litigating your case in court over a period of several months (or in some cases years) scares you, it may be wise to consider the settlement offer more closely.
What To Do With a Settlement Offer
When you receive a settlement offer, you can accept the offer, reject the offer, or make a counter-offer. When you accept the offer, you are accepting all of the terms as written and the offer becomes a binding agreement between you and the other party. Rejecting the agreement communicates that you have no other intention at this time other than to litigate your case in court. You can also counter the settlement offer, sending back your own settlement offer containing terms you are satisfied with, to see if the other party will accept your terms.
Zinda Law Group’s team of bus accident lawyers have helped clients resolve their bus accident injury cases through both litigation and by reaching a settlement. We can help you determine which course of action is right for your case and will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Contact us at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your consultation today.