When a loved one has passed away due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity, the last thing on one’s mind is probably settling out of court. However, it’s not uncommon for a wrongful death attorney in Houston to advise clients to settle, as it can be a quicker and less costly alternative to a trial.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement is a negotiated agreement between the parties involved in a lawsuit, in which the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a sum of money in exchange for the plaintiff agreeing not to pursue the lawsuit any further. Settlements can be reached at any point during the legal process but are most commonly reached before a trial begins.
Why Consider Settling?
There are several reasons why settling a wrongful death case may be the best option for a family. One of the biggest reasons is that it can bring closure more quickly than a trial. Trials can take several months or even years to resolve, while settlements can typically be reached within a few months. This can be especially important for families who are still grieving and want to move on as quickly as possible.
Another reason to consider settling is that it can be less costly than a trial. Trials require a significant amount of time and resources from both parties, and the costs can quickly add up. Settling can save the cost of a trial, and it can also be less emotionally taxing than a trial. Additionally, there is no guarantee of a favorable outcome in a trial. Even if a case is strong, a jury may still find in favor of the defendant. Settling allows control over the outcome and offers loved ones the certainty that they’ll receive some amount of compensation rather than leaving it up to a jury.
When to Settle
Settling a wrongful death case is not always the best option. It’s essential to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney before making a decision. They will be able to evaluate the case and determine if settling is the best option. The attorney will consider factors such as the strength of the case, the likelihood of winning at trial, the potential compensation, and the emotional toll of a trial.
It’s essential to keep in mind that settling a case does not mean giving up. It’s a strategic decision that can provide closure and compensation for a family. According to a study by the National Center for State Courts, the vast majority of civil cases, including wrongful death cases, settle before trial.
The Settlement Process
The settlement process begins with a settlement conference, which is a meeting between the parties and their attorneys to discuss the possibility of settling the case. During the conference, the parties will present their positions and try to reach an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the terms of the settlement will be put into writing and signed by both parties. If no agreement is reached, the case will proceed to trial.
It’s important to note that during the settlement process, communication between the parties is confidential. This means that any statements or offers made during the settlement process cannot be used as evidence in-trial if the case does not settle.
In some wrongful death cases, the settlement may be paid out in the form of a structured settlement. A structured settlement is a financial arrangement where the settlement amount is paid out over time rather than in a lump sum. This can be beneficial for families who may not be able to handle a large sum of money at once or who want the security of a steady income stream.
Structured settlements can also be tailored to meet the specific needs of the family. For example, payments can be set up to provide for a child’s education or to cover ongoing medical expenses.
Tax Implications of Settlements
It’s also important to consider the tax implications of settlements. In general, settlements for physical injuries are tax-free. However, settlements for emotional distress may be taxable. It’s important to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how a settlement may impact your taxes.
Choosing the Right Wrongful Death Attorney in Houston
Learn more about a wrongful death lawyer in Houston, and remember that choosing the right wrongful death attorney is crucial to ensuring that your case is handled effectively and efficiently. When searching for an attorney, it’s important to consider factors such as experience, reputation, communication, resources, and a no-win, no-fee policy.
Look for an attorney who has experience handling wrongful death cases, specifically in the state of Texas, has a good reputation, is responsive and easy to communicate with, has the resources to handle your case, and works on a contingency basis.
Settling a wrongful death case can be a quicker and less costly alternative to a trial and can bring closure more quickly for the bereaved family. It’s essential to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Houston to evaluate the case and determine if settling is the best option.