If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity, you need to take steps to recover compensation for your losses. However, there are various routes toward recovering compensation in these situations. In some cases, your claim will be resolved through a settlement with insurance carriers. However, it may be necessary for your case to go to trial. Here, we want to discuss the difference between an insurance settlement and taking a case to a jury trial.
Settling an Injury Claim in Michigan
The vast majority of personal injury claims in Michigan are resolved through insurance settlements. If this were not the case, then the entire civil court system in the state would be clogged up with relatively minor injury claims.
After an injury occurs, insurance claims adjusters will begin a preliminary investigation. It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to offer quick settlements to personal injury victims. However, these early settlements can be a trap. Insurance carriers are for-profit entities, and they are looking to minimize how much compensation they payout to personal injury victims in Michigan. Usually, initial settlement offers are far below what the injury victims should actually receive for their losses. This initial settlement offer should be taken as the starting point for negotiating towards a higher amount.
Our Southfield personal injury attorneys strongly encourage all victims in Michigan to never agree to settle an injury claim until after they have finished all medical treatment for their injuries. When a settlement is signed, there will be no way to go back and open the case later on to recover additional compensation.
When a claim is resolved through a settlement agreement with an insurance carrier, this typically means it will take less time than going through a personal injury trial. Some injury cases can be settled within a few weeks after the incident occurs, but these cases can take up to a year or more to resolve.
Taking an Injury Case to Trial
In the event an insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement, or if they choose to deny the Michigan personal injury claim altogether, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party in civil court.
When a lawsuit gets filed, this changes the ballgame. The discovery process will begin, which means both parties will investigate the incident and exchange information with one another. Often, both parties will continue to negotiate while the discovery is ongoing, particularly if either side receives information pushing them towards making a settlement offer. For example, if the at-fault party sees that there is solid evidence backing up the injury victim’s claim, it may be in their best interest to settle before going all the way to trial.
However, in the event the two sides cannot reach an agreement while this process is ongoing, it will be necessary for a jury to hear the evidence and make a determination. A jury will have to decide whether or not the at-fault party likely caused the plaintiff’s injuries and how much compensation should be awarded as a result.
It can take quite some time for a personal injury case to reach a jury. Sometimes, juries do not hear a case until years after the injury actually occurred. Even though this can seem daunting, sometimes a trial is the only way for an injury victim to ensure that they receive the compensation they are entitled to.