Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Ways To Resolve Personal Injury Claims

Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you are injured and file a personal injury claim, the chance is that the issue of resolving your claim will come up quickly. Insurance adjustors and defense attorneys are often anxious to put your case behind them and will set forth several theories to limit your monetary recovery and to convince you to settle your case. It is often difficult to put a monetary value on our injuries and to know whether to accept an offer or continue to negotiate. When you are injured in an accident, you have several avenues available to resolve your personal injury case. This is an overview of the options to resolve your personal injury claim and what you can reasonably expect from these processes.

You Can Settle Your Case

You always have the option of settling your claim during your case. All settlements are voluntary. A settlement can be reached from the time of your injury to during the middle of a trial. These are some of the ways in which settlement comes about.

You receive an offer from an opposing party (wrongdoer) before or after your claim is filed. This can be, for example, if the opposing party calls you and make an offer or you receive an offer from the opposing party’s attorney. If the opposing party makes you an offer soon after your injury, be sure to get a professional opinion of the value of your claim so that you do not forfeit any viable claims or accept less money than you have a legal right to.The insurance company makes you an offer after you file your claim. This usually comes after the insurance company investigates your case and comes up with a dollar value for your claim. Insurance companies do offer favorable settlements in some situations because they figure that it would be more expensive to litigate the case than settle it. Be sure to consult with an attorney before agreeing to any settlement offer. Insurance and claims adjustors are often out to get a cut rate deal if they can and do not have the authorization to offer you more money whereas an attorney for an insurance company may be in a better position to offer you a more favorable settlement that you deserve.The opposing parties negotiate independently or through their attorneys and come to a settlement. This usually occurs after a claim is filed. Each party conducts an investigation or analysis of the facts and value of your claim. The parties then negotiate for an agreed monetary amount with the assistance of their attorneys.Settlement negotiations usually require some give and take by both parties. For both parties to reach a successful settlement, both parties usually have to give something up while there is always the possibility that they would have done better in trial. A settlement essentially trades the uncertainty inherent within a trial for a set amount of money and the coinciding terms of settlement. It is highly recommended that you have a professional opinion as to the realistic value of your case before you agree to any settlement.

You Can Go To Mediation

Mediation is part of the formal court alternative dispute resolution process and has gained increasing popularity as a more compassionate, less stressful means of resolving disputes. The parties meet in an informal setting, such as a neutral law office or in a meeting room located within the courthouse. The parties then, with the assistance of a mediator, negotiate with their attorneys to work out a settlement as to some of all of the issues. A mediator is a neutral third party, usually an attorney or retired judge, who listens to each party’s version of events along with the party’s expectations and then attempts to assist the parties to reach a compromise. Even if the parties cannot reach a complete settlement, it is possible that the parties can work out some of their issues at mediation.

A mediator plays a key role in settlement negotiations. The mediator serves as a facilitator for settlement negotiations, and has the responsibility of giving each party their evaluation of their case, its value, and their likelihood of success as trial. A mediator has no independent authority to make orders or to otherwise compel a party to settle a case. However, mediators can often be very effective in spearheading negotiations and settlements.

You May Decide To Attend Arbitration

Arbitration is a mini trial of sorts. Essentially, the parties agree to have a private trier of fact, often a retired judge but may be a neutral attorney, preside over their matter and make a determination as to which party shall prevail or win their case. Despite the informalities of an arbitration (it usually takes place in offices instead of courtrooms), arbitration still has the same formalities as any trial. The parties are expected to present actual evidence, abide by the rules of procedure and evidence, present trial briefs and witnesses, and to present their case as they would in a court of law. Some of the advantages of arbitration are that it often gets done faster than a trial, there is no distraction of a jury, the parties have more control over the trier of fact (that is, they can choose their arbitrator instead of a luck of the draw assigned courthouse judge), and arbitration can readily be rescheduled if necessary. Despite the additional expense of a privately compensated arbitrator, arbitrations have steadily risen as a choice for litigants in the dispute resolution process.

When All Else Fails, You Can Go To Trial

Trial is one of the more glamorous but least understood procedures in the legal system. Essentially, you present your evidence and your case to the trier of fact and they decide which party wins and the value of their case. There are two types of trials.

A jury trial. A jury, a sworn body of I.S. citizens at least 18 years old, is selected by the parties and the jury decides the issues of liability and the value of your case. The jurors are the trier of fact while the judge handles any issues related to the law.A bench trial. The trier of fact, a judge or commissioner, decides which party is liable and the value of your case.Trials tend to be one of the more time consuming and expensive legal procedures but they can be well worth it for a favorable verdict.

The facts of your case and the surrounding circumstances will influence how your personal injury claim will be resolved. To learn more about your options to resolve personal injury claims, contact Chris Thayer at (206) 966-4785.