What Happens If I Cannot Settle My Personal Injury Case? By Attorney John Peterson

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Unfortunately, many personal injury cases cannot be settled without litigation. When it becomes necessary to commence what lawyers call a civil action, commonly known as a lawsuit, you will want to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Civil actions can be expensive and complicated, and the insurance industry has access to some of the best trial lawyers around. Peterson, Berk & Cross‘s personal injury attorneys are experienced, hardworking, and committed to serving their clients’ best interests at all times.

The vast majority of our clients’ cases settle before trial because the legal profession and the insurance industry know we are ready and willing to take our clients’ cases all the way to trial if they do not settle. Unfortunately for some accident victims, some attorneys who say they are personal injury trial lawyers are not really trial lawyers at all. These attorneys operate “settlement mills” in which they simply try for a quick settlement. They rarely proceed to trial and base their practices on volume, with little attention given to the needs of the individual client. Many of these lawyers advertise extensively on television, although of course, some competent trial lawyers also advertise on television. Many of the former have agents who will scour local police records for accidents involving injury, and will invade the accident victim’s home with glossy mailings soliciting the case immediately after the accident.

At Peterson, Berk & Cross, each case is assigned to at least one attorney and a paralegal. We prepare a written evaluation and demand package as soon as the client has reached the maximum level of medical improvement possible. If the case does not settle, and we need to file a lawsuit, we work closely with the client during the “discovery” process. This includes preparing written questions to be answered by the other side, working with the client to prepare written answers to the opponents’ questions and taking the depositions of the parties to the lawsuit and all relevant witnesses. Once pretrial preparation is complete, the case is often put into mediation.

Mediation is a method used to attempt to resolve disputes. It is a formal settlement conference presided over by an experienced trial lawyer who is a neutral party agreed upon by all the parties. All the parties have a chance to present their side of the case to the mediator on the day of the mediation. The mediator talks to each of them separately about the strong points and the weak points of their case, and also about the value of the case. It is common for cases to settle at or near the time of mediation.

Nevertheless, there are times when our clients are not satisfied with the best offer the insurance company is willing to make. When this happens, we will take the case to trial. Our reputation for success in the courtroom is probably the greatest advantage our clients have in bringing their case to a satisfactory conclusion.