So your lawsuit has been filed, depositions take and a trial date set. You are preparing yourself to tell the jury what you have been though and then an offer to settle comes from the defendant. Do you take it or go to trial? What a hard decision to make but a decision that our injury clients have to make all the time. As a lawyer when this happens I feel it is my job to make sure my client makes an informed decision. They need to know what is involved at trial, what do I think will be a likely outcome and why I see it the way I do. However, it is ultimately my client's decision. They are the boss.
I was recently interviewed about this common dilemma. You can watch the interview below:
In general, here are some of the factors my clients will consider when determining whether to settle:
TIME: Lawsuits take time and we all know that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar a year from now. As such, everyone needs to consider how long the litigation will take when considering an offer. Is it likely worth the wait? How far away is trial? These are all questions that come into play when considering an offer.
COSTS: The Higgins Firm will front all the costs on our car accident cases, however, not all of the costs are recoverable at trial. As such, the costs can reduce the net recovery. Because of this we don’t spend money unless we feel it will make our client more money but again these are factors in that need to be considered.
STRESS: Jury trials can be stressful. Car Accident Trial Lawyers love going to court but most of our clients had rather be with their family or at work than explaining their life to a jury full of strangers. That being said it is a wonderful system. We have found over the years that when we have a case that needs to go in front of the jury most juries can tell our clients are good honest people who have generally never been in a lawsuit. Regardless, this is a factor that will be considering when determining whether to settle a serious injury lawsuit or taking it all the way through trial.
FUTURE LOSSES: When considering whether an offer is fair we also need to consider whether the money will cover future damages. These may include future surgeries, time off work, lost wages, pain and suffering. Sometimes it may be difficult to know if future medical treatment will be needed so we rely on medical experts to help us with this question. Obviously there is no crystal ball but a good doctor can tell us whether surgery or future medical problems are likely.
FAIRNESS: This one is hard to explain but there is often a component of does the offer seem “fair” in light of what you have been through and what you are going through. Obviously, all of my clients would have rather of never been injured in the first place so to some extant there is no amount that is “fair”. However, you need to consider what a jury would likely think is reasonable. That can be a tough call but something you must consider when determining whether to accept an offer.