It is an old question, with no clear answer. Should I settle my personal injury claim or go to trial? First, I have to precede this article by stating the obvious. All cases of personal injury are unique. Therefore, this is not meant to be strict rules of engagement. In addition, it is a fact that most cases of personal injury are resolved before the jury verdict. However, with that said, there are a number of factors that a lawyer and client consider when deciding when to settle and when to bring a case to trial.
Let's explore some examples of the dilemma. I think it would be helpful to look at two different case scenarios to help understand the problems. The first to be called, the civil liability case. This is the situation where the negligent party is 100% guilty. In Michigan, the rules differ depending on whether it is an auto accident or facilities liability claim. But for our purposes, we will assume that the defendant is responsible and will pay some damages.
In this 100% liability situation, the question is how much compensation is worth the loss. After all, insurance companies want to pay as little as possible for the claim. So let's say the insurance company makes an offer of $ 50,000 and no more to settle the 100% liability case. No process has been opened. Your lawyer has determined that there is a wide range of values in the case and should be worth between $ 60,000 to $ 100,000. So what does the customer do, take the money or fight?
The first thing you do is present the offer to the customer. No doubt they will ask your advice. What should I do? I would tell them that they have minimal expenses right now. If they accept the offer, the money will be available immediately. There is no risk of getting less in judgment. Money is tax free and removes stress on the process. If they file a lawsuit, the upfront expenses will be the filing fees and the process service. The insurance company will hire a lawyer and they will have 21 days to respond to the claim.
Then the discovery process begins. The discovery consists in answering interrogations and testimonials. Ultimately, the client will have to pay for expert and medical testimonials of settlement proceeds. They will be required to appear in court. The lawyer on each side will prepare summaries and proceed to mediation. The case itself may take another year or two to resolve. However, there is always a chance that the filing of the process could produce a 10% or 20% higher offer right away. However, you cannot count on it. In that case, I would not try to direct the customer in any direction. I would tell them that $ 50,000 is close enough if they want to finish now, they must accept the offer. But I would not encourage acceptance of the offer.
The second scenario is the case where the defendant is claiming that it is not his fault or that his client contributed to his own injury. In this case, the insurance company may be a little more stubborn about settlement. Now the lawyer needs to consider how much validity should be given to the defendant's claim that his client was partially guilty. If your lawyer believes that the defendant is just blowing smoke and has no credibility, the value of the case should be analyzed in the same way as the first case.
However, if the lawyer believes that there is a possibility that the defendant is not liable, you should consider the likelihood of a lessor's verdict or cause for no reason.
A cause is not a complete loss. If the client's injuries are very serious, it may be necessary to file a complaint because the offer is not high enough.
For example, say the lawyer believes his client's damages are $ 500,000 and the insurance company offers only $ 50,000. Then the customer is in a difficult situation and will probably not accept the offer. The client will probably do better pushing the case to trial. In such a case, the attorney may be seeking a $ 250,000 pledge agreement as a reasonable settlement, due to the potential of the defendant's nothing verdict.
Finally, there are some cases where the insurance company is unwilling to pay the reasonable amount of a claim before the dispute. This may be due to several factors, such as the adjuster is overloaded or unreasonable. In some cases, the insurance company simply has a policy of never offering a reasonable solution until it is forced into litigation.
The bottom line is that the decision to settle or take action depends on many factors. Some of these factors are personal to the customer. The important thing is that the client be well compensated for their injuries.