What Factors Are Considered When Contemplating A Personal Injury Settlement?
At some point, in every personal injury case, there will be settlement discussions. There will be settlement demands from you or your lawyer, and there will be settlement offers from the defense. If a case does not settle, you can go to a trial or an arbitration and put these issues in the hands of a judge, a jury or an arbitrator. When my clients and I have this discussion, whether to accept a settlement offer or go to trial, we discuss these things in detail. Number one, is this the best offer the defense is going to make? Am I, as a lawyer, convinced that this is their best offer? Are they likely to offer more? This is critical. If your attorney has not negotiated hard and pushed the defense to the point where he is convinced that this is, in fact, their best offer, then he is not done negotiating. To accept an offer at this point is to leave money on the table, and I don’t leave money on the table.
Therefore, your attorney needs to negotiate to get their best and final offer. Once you’re convinced that a given offer of settlement is the best and final offer of settlement, then you must have the following conversation: How much more is the case likely to be worth in front of a jury or arbitrator? How much longer will it take to bring the case to trial or arbitration? What are the risks of going to a trial? Could you get less than the current offer? Could you lose? How much money will it take to bring the case to trial and pay for expert witnesses, jury fees, court reporter fees and other costs at trial? Could you wind up with a jury verdict less than the current settlement offer? Are you, the client, comfortable taking the risk of turning down an offer that puts sure money in your hands in favor of assuming the risks in going to trial? Is the case realistically worth enough more money to make the expense and risk of going to trial worthwhile?
Every client needs to consider his own or her own tolerance for risk. Some people have a great tolerance for risk, and are willing to take that chance because the potential benefit of a jury verdict could be great. Some people are more conservative. They do not want to take that risk, and are much more inclined to take a sure settlement to avoid the stress of going to trial or the risk of loss or an unfavorable result. These are the factors that need to be discussed, and whatever decision you make, it must be carefully analyzed and considered. Your attorney wants you to get the best possible outcome for your case. If that’s a settlement, then settle the case. If the best result is more likely to come from the trial, then that’s what your attorney will recommend to you.
How Does Litigating A Personal Injury Case Differ From Settling A Claim?
Trial and litigation are costly. An average personal injury case will require at least $15,000 – $25,000 or more to take to trial, and in a complex case, you can spend $100,000 or more depending upon the complexity and the number of experts involved. Expert witnesses are the most expensive single item in setting up a trial budget. You not only have to retain your own experts and pay them to review the records and prepare for the deposition, you have to pay your expert to come to court to testify, which typically costs around $5,000 for a medical expert for a just a half-day at trial. If you multiply that by two or three experts, you can see that you’re investing a lot of money in a trial. You must also take the depositions of the other side’s experts and pay them their expert fees for their time at their depositions. So, before you get to the last 90 days before trial, you have to take a serious look at the costs of the trial. Settlement avoids these costs, so you must evaluate the costs and risks of going to trial and make sure that turning down a sure settlement offer is in your best interests.
How Will I Pay For Medical Expenses While My Case Is Pending?
If you have medical insurance, you can use that for your medical care. However, even with medical insurance, you may have deductibles and co-pays. If you’re in a car crash, and your insurance policy includes medical payments coverage, it can be used to cover medical bills, co-pays, and deductibles, which are charges that your group medical insurance does not cover. If you do not have medical insurance or medical payments coverage, in appropriate cases, your lawyer can help you find a doctor that will work on what is called a lien basis. When a doctor works under a lien, it means that he or she will provide you with the medical care that you need. The doctor will wait until the case is concluded before he or she is paid. In other words, the doctor has a lien or an interest in your case, and he or she has agreed to provide that care. The doctor has the security that you have a valid case, and that he or she trusts you and your lawyer to honor the lien and to make sure that the bill is paid once your case is resolved. The doctor will ask you and your lawyer to sign the lien, and that secures the doctor’s interest in the case. That’s a way we can make sure that our clients get great medical care, in good cases, from top-notch doctors.
For more information on Personal Injury Settlements In California, a personalized consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (818) 530-1770 today.
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