Out of court personal injury settlement procedures

Personal injury out of court settlements

Out of court settlements and early settlements can sometimes be misunderstood as important or significant achievements in injury compensation claims. The truth is that most compensation claims are resolved “early” (i.e. at or before compulsory conferences) and without going to trial – but this does not necessarily mean that they are quick or cheap.

Important questions to ask your lawyer

It can be hard to choose the right lawyer to manage your compensation claim. The number of cases a lawyer settles out of court is not a good indicator of their abilities, because most cases will settle before trial as standard practice. The important questions you need to ask your lawyer are:

  • What percentage of claims do you settle at (or before) compulsory conference?
  • What percentage of claims go from a compulsory conference to “commencement of proceedings” (when you file the claim with the court to start the process for trial)?
  • Of the claims that commence proceedings, how many result in a better net settlement (that is, settlement amount minus legal costs and other expenses) than could have been achieved at the compulsory conference – and by how much?

No matter what sort of personal injury compensation claim you have, you will need to participate in a pre-court procedure (under the legislation relevant to your type of claim).

The compulsory conference provides all parties (claimants and insurers) with an opportunity to negotiate a settlement, avoiding the cost of going to court. Sometimes, the compulsory conference can be abandoned so the parties can negotiate informally. If settlement is not reached after this stage, then the claim needs to go to court for trial.

The steps you need to take to file your claim with the court and prepare to go to trial can be expensive. Even if you settle before the trial starts, the legal costs up to that point can be so high that they end up being a large proportion of your ultimate compensation amount.

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