Settling a Case vs. Litigation
When you have a personal injury claim, you have many decisions to make throughout the process. But the most important can be whether to accept a settlement offer or take your case to trial. This is not a decision to rush into — accepting an early settlement offer usually means getting less than your case is worth. It takes time and hard work to move the insurance companies and their lawyers toward an acceptable offer your attorney can recommend. When your attorney communicates a settlement offer, these are some of the questions you must consider:
- Does the settlement adequately cover your verifiable economic losses? Your medical bills and lost earnings are hard numbers. This is where your case for relief should be strongest. But unfortunately, if there’s doubt as to causation or if there’s evidence of contributory negligence, you may have to settle for less than you lost.
- Does the settlement adequately cover your estimated future economic losses? If your injuries are likely to require medical care in the future, you must account for those expenses in your assessment of the offer.
- Does the settlement adequately address noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering? This is the most speculative aspect of your case. To understand what your case is worth, you must rely on your attorney. Past verdicts and settlements of cases similar to yours are the best gauge of what your case may be worth.
If you’ve determined that the amount is adequate, is it worth your while to press for more? Are you willing to accept these possible risks:
- The amount you get at trial may be less than the settlement offer.
- Trials take time. You may face a substantial delay in getting your damage award.
- Even if you win at trial, the defendant may appeal the damage award, causing even greater delay.
- The possible increase in attorney’s fees and costs.
However, if the offer is inadequate, you have no choice but to proceed to trial. There are several advantages to trial:
- A sympathetic jury may award much more than you expected.
- The cost of a trial and the possibility of a large jury award put pressure on the defense to come back with a better offer.
To make the best decisions, you must be fully informed about the negotiations and any impediments to a reasonable settlement. The attorneys at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban have extensive trial experience, and can guide you through the legal process. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact our office online.