I got a call today from a friend who had been in an accident in December. They are still treating and surgery is just around the corner. They want me to settle their case now and asked me about that. This question comes up a lot in injury cases. There are two basic times the case can be safely settled:
- Does the responsible person have a small insurance policy? Is there only one person at fault? If so there is no reason to wait until later to settle. There is never going to be any more insurance no matter how long you wait. This type of situation comes up when there is a huge loss and only a $10,000 insurance policy.
- Have you reached Maximum Medical Improvement in the opinion of ALL of your treating doctors? If they all agree that you are not getting any better and their help is basically allowing you to cope, but not improve, then it is ok to settle.
The problem lawyers are trying to avoid with a premature settlement is due to the fact that when you settle, you will have to sign a RELEASE which cancels all of your legal rights forever, and it is almost impossible to get them set aside. A lawyer does not want to run the risk of a relapse, or more surgery, or a worsening of your medical condition when he recommends a settlement. I know that it is no fun going to doctors offices for appointments, and it would be nice to get the case behind you. However, now is the time to be patient or you may settle too soon and regret it for the rest of your life.