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Questions to ask before settling your personal injury case

Plaintiffs who can prove that they suffered injuries as a result of another party's negligence may be able to negotiate a settlement with the negligent party. In fact, it's often to the advantage of both the plaintiff and the defendant to reach an out-of-court settlement as opposed to leaving the decision up to a civil court judge.

That said, plaintiffs need to fully understand the settlements they are agreeing to so that they know the ramifications of the agreement. To gain a better understanding, plaintiffs should always ask the following questions when their attorneys present them with a pretrial settlement proposal:

1.) What are your attorneys' fees?

The amount of your settlement will likely be different from the actual amount of money you receive. Make sure you ask your attorney what the fee will be and what the costs and expenses will be. Determine the amount you will receive after all your expenses are paid.

2.) What are your state and federal tax liabilities?

State and federal taxes may apply to your settlement. Consult with a tax accountant regarding your proposed settlement to determine what kind of tax liabilities your settlement payment will trigger. These taxes could significantly affect the net amount you receive.

3.) What are you giving up to settle your case?

In order to receive payment from the other party via an out-of-court settlement, your settlement agreement will have specific terms and conditions. On the most basic level, you'll probably be giving up your right to sue the defendant again regarding any prior issue that may have happened before the date of signing the agreement. Your settlement agreement will probably also involve a confidentiality agreement that prevents you from discussing the settlement with anyone who isn't already a part of the case.

4.) Can you settle part of your case?

If you can't come to an agreement regarding every aspect of your case, it may be possible to settle only part of the issues relating to it. You will then dismiss that portion of your case and the rest of the matter will then proceed through the court system as usual.

After you've fully answered the above questions and consulted closely with New York personal injury law, you will be closer to having a complete picture of what's involved with your proposed personal injury settlement. Then, you can make an objective decision about whether you will accept the settlement or not.

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