Should I Settle My Personal Injury Case?

This is a question that we are asked by virtually every client in every case we have. The answer is that if a settlement offer is made which is approximately equal to what one can expect to receive at a jury trial then the case should be settled. In other words, there would be no need for a jury trial because the settlement offer being made is approximately what one would likely receive in front of a fair and impartial jurors. If the offer is below what one is likely to receive from fair and impartial jurors then we recommend that clients not accept the settlement offer. Obviously, if the offer is above what we reasonably believe a fair and impartial jury would award in a particular case, we recommend that our client accept such an offer.
It is not always easy to predict what a fair and impartial jury would do with a particular case. The nuances and unique facts of any case obviously influence claim evaluation. If liability is strong and if damages are good and the client otherwise makes a favorable impression, such a case has a greater settlement value than does a case where there are liability issues, damage issues and/or client problems. As always, the facts are key but sometimes the law as it pertains to the unique facts involved will dictate as well the outcome of the case and/or the evaluation of a particular claim.
Sometimes the law is not favorable to a particular position that a party has in litigation. The less favorable the law to their position, the less valuable the claim from a claim evaluation standpoint. In those cases where a client has been victimized by the negligence of a third party, they are truly innocent in the premises and their damages are clear and easily proven, such a case has greater settlement value than does one where the damages may be attributable to acts other than the negligence, there is contested liability based on the facts and circumstances of the case and/or the client’s expectations are unreasonable or they do not make a very positive impression and thus a jury may not like them.
What we try to do in representing our clients is to make sure that their cases are presented in the best light possible so that we can get the best possible result for them. If an offer is made that is equal to what we believe a fair and impartial jury would award, we always recommend that such a client consider such a settlement proposal assuming it is made. Of course, it is the client’s ultimate decision whether they wish to settle or rely upon fair and impartial jurors to resolve their case. Going to trial can be a gamble because oftentimes one can get a lesser verdict than they would have obtained via settlement. If the client is fully informed of these risks and nonetheless wishes to go to trial, sometimes the award obtained is higher than one might otherwise obtain through settlement. As long as the client is fully informed of their options and counsel is fully prepared to present the strongest case possible to the jury, the client should be advised that a jury trial is an option that they should consider, however, in weighing their options, if the offer made is reasonable and is likely to approximate what a fair and impartial jury might award, then in that event, we always recommend that our clients consider such a settlement offer while deferring to their discretion whether they wish nonetheless to accept the risk of going forward to a jury trial.

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