Does Winning At Trial Guarantee A Larger Settlement, Or Could The Plaintiff End Up With Less Than The Original Settlement Amount?
While the goal of trial is to obtain a significantly larger settlement than the pre-trial offer, there are no guarantees, and that goes for the plaintiff and the defendant. Defense counsel may go in thinking that the case is going to be a zero-defense verdict, only to get smacked in the face with a three-million-dollar verdict. There is fear and risk on both sides of the aisle, it just turns out to be that the plaintiff has more to lose than the defendant. A plaintiff could be surprised favorably or unfavorably. They could go into a case thinking they have it locked up with great witnesses and damages, and then someone could sneak on the jury that just hates plaintiff lawyers, and we could end up with a defense verdict. There is no guarantee.
In our litigation conference meetings, we break down estimated costs and fees for the case, including depositions and expert witnesses, and compare those costs and fees with what we believe to be the true value of the case, as well as the amount that similar cases in the community are going for. We want to make sure that we would be gaining significantly more by going to trial, because we will be taking on significantly more risk. In other words, we want the reward to be in line with the risk.
It all goes back to preparation and being intuitive about what’s going on. From the beginning, we vet our cases. We will take any case and go up against anyone, so long as it’s a worthy cause. We are selective with the cases that we do take, and case worthiness is very important to us. The client has to be a good person with a good story, because we need to care about them. How can I ask the jury to care for my client and their case if I don’t even think the case is worthy? This is absolutely a key factor that we consider before taking on any case.
How Will Going To Trial Affect The Overall Cost Of The Personal Injury Process, As Well As My Settlement?
Immediately after filing a lawsuit, the costs increase significantly, and so do the attorney fees. This is because of the amount of skill, time, and effort it takes to try a case. We don’t try cases just to charge our clients more; we try cases only when we believe that we can get significantly more money than what is being offered by the defense. Generally, we like it when insurance companies make a ridiculously lowball offer, because that makes our decision really easy. The decision is tougher when the insurance company makes an offer that is close to what we believe is fair, because then we have to really consider the risks of trial.
Filing fees and the cost of expert witness depositions pose a big problem. It’s not possible to take a deposition from a doctor for under $2,500, and that’s only for about two hours of their time. I think that’s a problem. As a lawyer, I’d like to have more access to doctors, depose them, and take their questions, but we balance that with the fact that their time is valuable.
There is something called litigation insurance, which can cover someone in the event that they lose at trial. Some insurances offer about seven percent of the amount of coverage requested. For example, if a plaintiff wanted $10,000 in coverage, then they would pay $700, and if they were to lose the case, then they would receive the amount that they put into it. This is one way of combating the risk of trial.
In addition to personal injury cases, I handle labor and employment cases, and many of my clients have recently lost their jobs and don’t have money. I am fairly good at managing cases cheaply and efficiently; it is key to never sacrifice quality for cheapness.
It is also important to note that the longer the case goes on, the greater the costs. For this reason, we try to be as efficient with our money as possible. We advance the cost of trial to our clients, but at the end of the day, the amount that we advance comes out of the settlement. In essence, it is the client’s money, so we are as careful as possible with it. At the end of the day, that’s all clients really care about—the amount of money they walk away with.
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