What Happens When a Lawsuit Settles?

December 17, 2020

If you are filing a civil lawsuit, your ultimate goal is to secure the compensation you need to recover in the form of a settlement. This settlement can occur at multiple stages during a case, such as during pretrial negotiations or even after sending an initial demand letter to the at-fault party before filing the claim. If your case proceeds to trial, the court will decide whether or not you qualify for compensation and determine the amount you are eligible to receive.
Many people consider the settlement or judgement to be the final phase of a lawsuit. However, your attorney will need to undergo a series of processes to secure this payment on your behalf, especially if you are involved in a mass tort complaint.

The Post-Settlement Process

When your case settles out of the courtroom, the attorneys involved will report to the court that you reached an agreement. The court will then issue an order of settlement and require all parties to complete the process within a specified timeframe.
You will typically need to sign a few documents to secure your compensation. The most important one is the Release, a document that the defense attorney prepares to outline the terms of your settlement. Your attorney will discuss the Release with you and read through the document to determine if the terms are acceptable. If they are not, he or she will request a judge’s intervention. If the terms are acceptable, you will sign it and return it to the defense attorney.

Settlement Considerations for Mass Tort Lawsuits

A mass tort lawsuit is a type of legal complaint that involves a group of individuals alleging similar injuries committed by the same entity. Common subjects of mass tort litigation include defective drugs, dangerous products, and exposure to toxic substances.
Unlike class actions, which split settlements evenly between all plaintiffs, mass tort cases treat each plaintiff as an individual and assigns compensation based on an individual’s unique damages. This means that if you qualify for mass litigation, you will need to retain a lawyer and file your own claim in order to secure a settlement.
Like other civil lawsuits, mass torts can settle at any stage. The settlement process is slightly different from other civil litigation due to the presence of multiple plaintiffs.

  • If the case settles before trial and you have not yet filed your claim, you may still have a chance at compensation. Usually, a settlement fund will be in place to encourage additional victims to file their claims. You may still have time to file a lawsuit and obtain a settlement from the fund.
  • If the case settles before trial and you have already filed your claim, your lawyer will engage in negotiations to help you retain your portion of the settlement. He or she will present evidence to the administrator overseeing the settlement fund to achieve maximum possible compensation.

Whether you choose to file an individual lawsuit or join a mass tort case, it is important to retain an attorney to represent your best interests. Settlements require a great deal of negotiation, and release documents can contain confusing language. After you reach a settlement, your lawyer will explain your options and settlement terms to you clearly so you can make the most informed decision.
Your lawyer will advocate for your right to maximum possible compensation during each stage of this process.  If you have not done so already, contact a San Diego personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options and strategize your next steps.