I was in a car accident in August 2011 while I was in the military, and the other person is suing me for a lot of money that I don’t have. It will more than likely make me bankrupt and lose my house. I have insurance which should have covered $50,000 in medical expenses. What are my options?
The great majority of personal injury claims are settled short of trial. However, some claimants in personal injury cases will file a lawsuit first before any talks about negotiation for one or a combination of several reasons: such as when the statute of limitations is about to run, or to be able to conduct formal discovery, or to simply show the defendant that the claimant is serious about pressing for a cause of action.
Even if a lawsuit has been filed, parties may still consider negotiations to settle the case and there is no statutory or ethical rule barring the parties personally from negotiating directly with each other. However, when negotiations are conducted through either party’s counsel, the ethical limitation on communicating directly with the adverse party applies: An attorney cannot communicate “directly or indirectly” with a party known to be represented by counsel on a controverted matter unless that party’s attorney otherwise consents. [CRPC 2–100].
Accordingly, if the other side has retained an attorney, settlement proposals must be directed to that party’s attorney because settlement agreement executed in attorney’s absence may be set aside if it was negotiated in violation of Rule 2–100 [Marriage of Wickander (1986)].
It is very important to be properly represented by an experienced lawyer in personal injury and accidents, and most importantly, an expert negotiator. Work with one to ensure that the case will be handled professionally and settled properly.