How Does The Negotiation Process Work?
Negotiations to settle a personal injury case usually occur when an offer of financial settlement is made by the defendant or, under advice from your lawyer, by you.
An offer to settle a case can happen at any time. Generally, an offer is made once all the evidence has been disclosed between both parties. In some cases, a defendant may make an offer before any evidence is obtained. This is why it is important to seek legal advice when making a personal injury claim as the offer might not be an accurate reflection of the compensation you deserve.
In some instances, your solicitor may advise you to make an offer to the defendant. This could be alongside the disclosure of medical evidence, or to encourage the defendant’s side to negotiate.
Your solicitor will advise you on whether to accept or reject an offer; however, it is your decision to make. If liability has been admitted and we have enough evidence to work out how much the claim is worth, we are likely to recommend that you settle your case at this stage.
Accepting an Offer
If the defendant has made a fair offer that your solicitor thinks is acceptable, they will advise you to accept it.
Remember that accepting an offer will mean full settlement of your claim. There will be no opportunity to reopen the claim, so it is vital that you do not settle until you are happy with one of the following:
- Any medical symptoms you have are resolved
- You are at a stage in the recovery period where your symptoms will not worsen
Once you agree to accept an offer, your solicitor will advise the defendant’s side, including when they will be sending a cheque in settlement of your claim. Your lawyer will make you aware of when you can expect to receive your settlement cheque.
Rejecting an Offer
If the defendant has made an offer and your lawyer doesn’t believe it is appropriate, they will advise you to reject it.
Broadly speaking, there are two reasons why this will be the case:
- The defendant may have made an offer in advance of all the relevant evidence being gathered, which would mean that your claim cannot be appropriately valued.
- The defendant’s offer is below what we would anticipate you should receive for your claim.
In either of these instances, your lawyer will advise you on the next steps.
What is a Part 36 Offer?
Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules allows a party to make a settlement offer before trial on terms that if the offer is not accepted and the opposing party fails to beat the offer at trial, the court is likely to impose severe costs and/or interest penalties.
Either the claimant or the defendant can make a Part 36 offer as a way to convince the other party to settle the claim early without having to go to court. If used wisely, this can be a powerful negotiation tool.
A Part 36 offer can be made at any point during the claims process, and is made without any blame for the accident. A minimum period of at least 21 days must be given to consider accepting the offer. During this period, the party making the offer is liable for all costs - this is known as the Relevant Period.
An offer cannot be altered or withdrawn during the Relevant Period unless the court gives permission.
If you believe that the offer compensates you for your injuries and losses, you can accept the offer. Compensation is usually paid out quickly with Part 36 offers; however, you will not be able to claim any more money for your injuries at a later date, which could result in serious financial loss in the future (for example, loss of earnings or medical costs).
A defendant’s insurer may make a Part 36 offer to save money, as the amount of compensation offered will be much less than what you are entitled to. That’s why it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor when negotiating a personal injury claim.
Not Satisfied With Your Solicitor?
If you are not satisfied by how the law firm you have appointed is handling your case, we offer a “Check My Claim” service so you can get a second opinion on the service you are receiving from your current solicitor.
We can check your claim if:
- Your case has been mishandled or progress has taken too long
- You have been told your claim is not worthwhile pursuing
- You are not happy with the amount of compensation you have been told you will receive
- Your solicitor has settled your case on a lower amount of compensation that you feel you deserve
For more information on how you can switch solicitors, take a look at our dedicated page.
Talk to Us
To speak to an expert about an injury that was caused by somebody else’s negligence and your right to make a claim, contact JMW today. Our solicitors are waiting to hear from you and are happy to answer any questions you may have.