It goes without saying that every compensation claim is different in terms of the potential quantum or amount of compensation that may be received at the end. The amount will largely depend on how well the injured person or claimant has recovered from their injuries and what ongoing effect, if any, the injuries will have into the person’s future.
Some claimants have preconceived notions of how much they think their claim is worth. Many others will not (understandably) have any clue. Whatever the case may be, there is one factor that claimants must be aware of if they hope to achieve an out-of-court settlement for their claim. That factor is compromise.
No claim will be worth one single amount, but rather a range of amounts is considered when attempting to quantify any claim. Compromise involves a close and careful consideration of the available evidence, the current circumstances of the injured person, and, perhaps most importantly, the risks of proceeding further with the claim.
Within the context of informal settlement negotiations and exchange of settlement offers, claimants will inevitably need to ask themselves questions such as:
- Will the amount offered be enough to cover my past and/or future medical expenses? What about if I need to take and/or continue to take time off work?
- How strong is my case? Is there a good chance that I might receive more if I go to court instead?
- If I proceed further, my legal costs will increase. Will this affect how much I may potentially receive?
- If I decide to go to court, is it worth the risk that I might lose and end up not receiving any compensation as well as potentially be in debt to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees?
Compromising does not necessarily mean ‘giving up’ and underselling your claim. Your lawyers will be obligated to advise you of the risks and benefits of settling your matter without needing to go to court. On the other hand, if the defendant insurer is not being sensible with their offers, then it may be worth ‘standing your ground’ and proceeding further.
Compromise is about having realistic expectations about the value of the claim. It involves both parties acting sensibly and attempting to settle the claim in good faith. You might concede in one aspect of your claim, but stand firmly in others. Such is the nature of settlement negotiations, and claimants may find that the chances of settling their claim increase if they are willing to adopt an attitude to compromise where appropriate.
If you want an expert team of specialist lawyers who will guide you throughout the process and achieve the best possible settlement for your claim, please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 or make an online enquiry for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Written by Erick Culala.
Erick Culala is a solicitor in Emily Harris’s Practice Group. Erick has worked on a variety of compensation matters involving motor vehicle accident claims, public liability claims, and workers compensation.