Most New Mexico personal injury lawsuits are settled before the case goes to trial. This is due to several reasons, but primarily because a mutually acceptable settlement agreement eliminates the risk on both sides. Thus, a settlement agreement allows for an accident victim to count on receiving a certain amount of compensation for their injuries. And at the same time, the defendant avoids the risk of losing at trial and having the jury return a damages award that is significantly higher than that which the plaintiff would accept prior to trial.
The ability of a New Mexico personal injury attorney to negotiate and execute a favorable settlement agreement is therefore one of the most important skills an attorney can possess. Not all settlement agreements are clear-cut, and some can present issues if the proper language is not used. A recent case illustrates this concept, and highlights why the language in a pre-trial settlement agreement is very important.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was involved in a traffic accident with a delivery driver for a chain fast-food restaurant. After the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, the restaurant, and the restaurant’s insurance company (“the defendants”). The plaintiff did not name the owner of the vehicle or the owner’s car insurance company in the lawsuit.