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Resolving a case before walking into the courtroom

When Pennsylvania residents hear of legal disputes between different individuals, they often envision the tense courtroom scenes depicted on television and in the movies. While these scenes may play out in some cases, the reality is that many legal disputes are resolved before the matter even gets to the courtroom.

Settlement agreements have become much more common over the past few decades, as parties try to gain more certainty and limit the costs of litigation. However, this is not to say settlement agreements are easy to come by, as there can be plenty of legal maneuvering to obtain and enforce a settlement.

For instance, one judge recently decided on the enforceability of one settlement agreement. The case involved a car crash that injured multiple individuals in Pennsylvania. While insurance proceeds were made available to the five injured persons, only one had signed a release execution agreement related to the proceeds. The defendant attempted to avoid having the insurance settlement be enforced, but the judge ruled the settlement was enforceable.

While the case is unique, there are challenges and disputes that frequently arise in obtaining and enforcing settlement agreements. There is often much strategy that goes into a settlement agreement that goes well beyond having one party try to get as much compensation as possible and the other party trying to limit the amount.

For example, when multiple parties are involved, each can have different goals and interests in mind. Individuals thus need to ensure they have a solid strategy, complete with a good understanding of the facts and law, in order to best position themselves in settlement negotiations.

Source: Penn Record, "Car crash defendant ordered to pay $30,000 settlement," Nicholas Malfitano, July 21, 2015

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