Most legal claims of personal injuries do not go to trial in civil courts, according to our Orange County personal injury attorney. The parties resolve the typical case earlier in the litigation by negotiating a settlement. Sometimes they settle the claim informally before filing any lawsuit. Through settlement, the plaintiff or claimant agrees to waive the right to pursue the claim further in exchange for receipt of a sum of money or other consideration from the defendant. In some cases, instead of or in addition to paying money, the defendant agrees to undertake or to cease and desist from certain action.
In considering whether to accept an offer to settle a legal personal injury claim, it is always important to consult with an attorney for a thorough evaluation the case and for an opinion on the settlement offer. The consultation should discuss certain subjects:
- Worth or value of the Case
- Outcomes on verdicts and settlements in similar cases,
- Probability of favorable result at trial,
- Practical problems of trial,
- Evidentiary strengths/weaknesses, and
- Opposing party’s evidentiary strengths weaknesses.
- Money and damages
- What the Orange County personal injury attorney consultant thinks the case value may be in damages a trial jury could award the plaintiff,
- The minimal amount the plaintiff would accept to settle the case without a trial,
- The liability limits of the defendant’s insurance, and
- The defendant’s financial resources.
- Considerations for the plaintiff
- How much of the settlement amount will pay legal fees and case costs? In most personal injury lawsuits, contingency fees pay the lawyer. The plaintiff pays no legal fees unless and until success at trial or a satisfactory settlement.
- How will the settlement proceeds affect the plaintiff’s income taxes? Most settlements are income that taxpayers must report on their returns. The taxable percentage depends on circumstances.
- Consider what to give up in order to settle the case. Generally there must be some compromise by both parties to negotiate a settlement they both accept.
- Think about a partial settlement that resolves easy issues first while negotiations continue over the more difficult, and
- Decide whether to accept a consideration besides money.
- Privacy concerns
- Trials are in courts open to the public and to media coverage and scrutiny.
- Sensitive information that a trial or further discovery could reveal.
- Possible disclosure of business trade secrets;
- How soon the court is likely to call the case for trial and how long it may take.
- Negotiation tactics of the opposing party’s lawyer, and
- The probability that the opposing party will be unwilling to negotiate.
As a party to the dispute, only the plaintiff personally can decide whether to accept a settlement offer. But counsel for the opposing party has a duty to get the best possible result by offering the plaintiff as little as possible, so is the offer a good deal for the plaintiff, too? A seasoned attorney is in the best position to analyze and answer that question.
Consult Our Orange County Personal Injury Attorney
It is important to understand the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant’s insurer. They are not allies. Insurance claim adjusters ask claimants or plaintiffs lots of questions to acquire lots of information but not to protect the plaintiffs. Insurance companies are not in business to pay claims. They want to pay as little on claims as possible. They want to adjust plaintiff claims only one way, down, to zero if possible. They can be masters of deceit and delay. They will use stall tactics to run out the clock if they can until claims are out of time and claimants are out of court.
There is nothing for an injured claimant to gain from unnecessary delay. Let the skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys at Russell & Lazarus APC negotiate with the defendant’s insurer and see how fast the case moves to a settlement offer. Call (949) 851-0222 today to schedule a free initial case consultation.