Settling your case is a very serious decision.
You, the client, must carefully consider a recommendation to settle. Your decision to settle will end your case forever, and you cannot return to court to re-open your case and “start all over again.” The courts enforce settlements and prefer settlements so that there is an end to a lawsuit.
A client may settle a case by either entering a settlement “on the record” in open court, approving a settlement to the attorney, signing a release, or agreeing to arbitration.
In 99.99% of settlements the client has no regrets and is very eager to settle. In 0.01% of the time a client changes his mind. In our experience once a client settles we have never been able to “re-open” the case.
Therefore, when there is a recommendation to settle, discuss the ramifications of the settlement thoroughly with your attorney and discuss some of the following factors:
- future workers’ compensation benefits: A settlement of the lawsuit affects the receipt of future workers’ compensation benefits, such as income and medical. A settlement can end your future benefits or reduce them. This should be discussed with both your lawsuit attorney and your workers’ compensation lawyer.
- future government benefits: A settlement can affect a client’s various government benefits, such as public assistance and medicaid. A settlement will often end benefits. Sometimes a government benefits planning attorney must be called-in so that the settlement does not end benefits.
- the cost of future medical: A settlement ends the case forever. If a significant portion of the settlement is for medical, then there must be appropriate planning.
- the cost of future income: Again, a settlement may include future income losses.
Also, when you discuss settlement with your attorney discuss the reasons why the attorney recommends settlement. You should accept your attorney’s recommendation.
If you are in doubt, wait before you settle. Discuss your case further with your lawyer. Unless your case is on trial and an immediate decision must be made, you can take a couple of days to consider a settlement. Because once you settle your case, there is no turning back.
If you have been involved in an accident, please call me at 800-581-1434 for a free consultation.
Mark E. Seitelman, 2/1/09, www.seitelman.com.