Do I Settle or go to Trial?

In a personal injury case there is usually 2 paths for a client to choose;

  1. Settle or
  2. File a lawsuit and go to trial.

Often times, there is no offer to settle and the client has no choice except to file a law suit or sue. In most cases, at some point there is an opportunity to settle.

The window of settlement opportunity most often occurs at the following stages:

a) 30 days after a demand letter is sent to the defendant’s insurance company;

b) When a lawsuit is first served;

c) After all discovery is done and the case is scheduled for trial;

d) At trial when is time to pick a jury ;

e) Immediately after a jury is selected;

f) At the end of the trial when the jury starts to deliberate;

g) After a jury awards a large verdict;

f) When the case in on appeal.

As you can see, settlement, if any, can occur months or years into a case.

Many factors go into deciding which choice is the best direction for each client; they include:

  • The amount of the Insurance policy limits.
  • Amount of damages (medical bills and lost income).
  • Risks of losing case on Motion pre-trial.
  • Risk of losing case on liability at trial.
  • Likelihood of a long appeal.
  • If the money can help now.
  • Time value of money (“a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush”).

If your lawyer has already filed suit your choices are:

  1. Go to trial or
  2. Settle.

This guide will strive to educate you on both paths. Each of the two choices has positive benefits and negative results.

We are trial attorneys and we are honored to represent our clients and and their families. We believe you have a good case and we are ready, willing and able to take this case to trial. We believe we can win this case and obtain a large verdict. Nothing in this letter is meant to suggest we are not willing to fight f or you and go the full distance. The purpose of this letter is because we as your attorneys have an obligation to keep you informed and tell you the good and the bad.

Advantages to go to Trial

  • Possible larger recovery
  • Any excess Verdict (over policy limits) can be pursed against the defendant or company assets.
  • When the insurance company refuses to offer policy limits an excess verdict and even interest can often be collected.

Disadvantages to Trial

  • Trials are often years away.
  • Trials carry risk of losing or low verdicts.
  • Costs of Litigation could reduce the net funds and could easily exceed many $1000s of dollars (reducing the client’s net recovery). Costs include: Experts; Medical depositions (doctor fees, videographer, and court reporter) (Physicians charge $500 to $2000 per hour for depositions and also for live trial appearances).
  • Appeals can be long and expensive.
  • Collection of money beyond insurance can be expensive.
  • Defendants can file bankruptcy.

Advantages to Settlement

  • Case and risk and stress of litigation and costs end now.
  • Money is Available now for Medical and Rehab treatment
  • Negotiate reduction in liens to maximize “net” to client.

Disadvantage to Settlement

No additional money will be recovered later. This will be the end of the case.

This blog is one of a series of blogs on settlement vs Lawsuit.

Stay tuned

Make it a great day!

Howard Spiva

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