Preparing and Attending Your Injury Claim Settlement Conference
You should meet with your attorney once or twice before the settlement conference. If you cannot attend the meeting prior to the settlement conference, at least call your attorney to discuss your injuries at length before attending the settlement conference. The settlement conference may be the last time that you may be able to express your point of view, present your medical billing, lost wages, and future damages. Some of my clients are still in medical treatment at the time of the settlement conference and a future medical care report is presented to the Settlement Conference Judge (or Judge Pro Tem).
An Inexpensive Resolution of Your Injury Case
The settlement conference is a very inexpensive manner of resolving your personal injury case. Unlike a mediator, a Settlement Conference Judge does not have to be paid. Further, the Superior Court will make some courtrooms available for the litigants at no cost to you. The Settlement Conference will take about 3 hours or less and the courthouse does not receive any payment. In Pima County, the Position Statements submitted to the settlement conference judge is confidential and is not filed with the Court. This means that there is no filing fee for submitting your memorandum and the exhibits to the Judge Pro Tem.
Understanding All of Your Damages and Your Case
Understanding of all your damages, the theories of liability, comparative negligence, and strengths and weaknesses of your case before attending the settlement conference is a must. At the settlement conference, the Judge Pro Tem speaks with the parties in separate conference rooms and thus becomes the only person that can be a voice for your client. The settlement conference judge needs to know everything about your claim and why it is better for the opposing party and attorney to settle the case rather than spending thousands of dollars on a trial. This is especially important in a case with multiple parties or a wrongful death claim.
Pursuing Other Parties After an Injury Claim Settlement Conference
In Arizona, you may pursue a claim against all parties involved in the accident. The adverse vehicle owner provides the primary auto insurance coverage for your losses. The adverse vehicle driver provides the secondary excess coverage for your injuries. Then, you may still pursue compensation through your own underinsured motorist policy or uninsured motorist policy that you purchased before the accident. Hence, the Settlement Conference will most likely involve a written settlement that does not have to include the other parties or other insurances policies that can be used for your benefit.