What Are The Benefits And Disadvantages Of Taking A Personal Injury Case To Trial?
The only goal of trial is to get money for our clients; this might seem a little callous, but it’s the truth of the matter. We can’t put our clients back together physically or medically, but we can give them the best opportunity to end up as close as possible to the condition they were in prior to the incident.
One benefit of taking a personal injury case to trial is certainly that it can result in more money. Inevitably, the offer will increase by filing the lawsuit, but it’s a delicate balance between the increased costs of trial versus the potential for increased value from the case.
It’s important to know that from a value standpoint, a case generally doesn’t get better as it moves down the road. In other words, a herniated disc in a particular case is worth the same amount on the day of the injury as it is 10 months later, generally speaking. In most cases, taking a case to trial will result in a greater monetary outcome. However, rejecting a settlement offer means rejecting a guaranteed victory for the possibility of more money, at the risk of losing everything. The key is to determine the actual probability of success, formulate a detailed and sharp idea of the value of the case, and not deviate from that value.
If a case is valued at $250,000 and the top offer is $80,000, the plaintiff shouldn’t take it, but instead stand by the evaluation. Trying a case is more expense and the stakes are higher than they are with a settlement offer, but the usual tradeoff is more money at the end of the case. In addition, taking a case to trial means having another set of eyes on the case. I’ve been wrong in the past, and so have insurance adjusters; sometimes a second set of eyes helps the parties develop a more realistic expectation of the true value of the case—not just what it will settle for. The distinction between what a case will settle for and the actual value of a case is an important one to make.
Could A Case Settle Right Before The First Day Of Trial, Or Even During Trial?
Cases often settle during the weekend that immediately precedes the first day of trial. Cases can and do settle at any time. I’ve handled cases that settled within weeks of the incident, and I’ve handled cases that settled on the eve of trial. It’s also not uncommon for cases to settle after the jury has been sworn in, the opening statements made, and testimony delivered. A case can settle any time prior to the rendering of a verdict. When cases do settle right before or during trial, it is usually because the insurance company realizes that they got their butt kicked and they’re trying to review some of their exposure.
Part of our job is to constantly negotiate with insurance companies. This doesn’t mean that we’re going to deviate from what we believe to be the fair value of the case, but it does mean that we’re going to constantly remind the insurance companies of the “whys” in the case—why we are right, and why they are wrong. We want to focus on these “whys” because every time we make an offer, the insurance company or the defense attorney has to write a memo to the file and justify it. As we keep building on the case and coming up with new ideas to support our position, the other side will often increase their offers.
For more information on Personal Injury In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 546-7608 today.