Should You Go to Trial if You Get a Bad Settlement Offer?
There are many factors that go into the evaluation of a personal injury claim. As I have discussed previously, establishing the dollar value of your personal injury case is very complicated and should involve the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
However, establishing the fair value of the case is only the first step. The second step is getting the insurance claims adjuster to actually pay it.
In this article, I will discuss your various options when dealing with a reluctant claims adjuster. Before addressing that, it is necessary to discuss a few preliminary considerations.
There are no small cases
First and foremost, it is important to recognize that there are no small cases.
To illustrate this, I will share a conversation I had with my wife when working on a Saturday to prepare for a trial that was to begin the following week. My wife asked me a few questions about the case.
Then, she asked, “Is it a big case?”
Without hesitation, I replied, “It is to my client.”
My point is there are no small cases. I have heard many lawyers indicate the manner in which they handle a large dollar value case is different from the manner in which they handle a “small” case. This is not fair to the client!
I currently have cases that range in value between $5,000 and $5 million. While the amount of work required may vary depending on the complexity of the case, the manner in which I approach it is always the same.
You do not care, nor should you care, about any other case I handle. Your case is the most important case in the world to you. Therefore it should be the most important case in the world to me – and it is.
Unless your lawyer is passionate about fighting for your rights, I do not believe he or she can do a good job.
What is your case worth?
This is a non-economic comment on case value. Your case is worth whatever you are willing to accept and whatever the claims adjuster/ defendant is willing to pay. If you are offered an amount that you are willing to accept, that is the value of your case. The key is, there has to be a good reason to accept an offer. While that sounds simple, it really is not.
There are many reasons people settle cases. Some are good reasons and some are not. For instance, if you settle because the amount offered allows you to obtain justice and be fairly compensated, that is a good result. But, if you settle because the case has dragged on forever, you have no faith you are going to get a good result and you decide to throw in the towel, that is a bad result.
Why it is important to have an attorney fighting for you
As I said above, evaluating the case is only part of the process. The other part is getting the right amount offered. Unfortunately, many times, claims adjusters think they can make any offer and the injured plaintiff will automatically take it.
Sadly, many times, the plaintiff’s lawyer is trying to get his client to take the otherwise unacceptable offer. Unbelievably, I have had many people tell me they settled cases because their lawyer told them “you will never get a better offer,” “it takes forever to get to court,” or “ it is really expensive to try a case.”
Even if these things are true, you and your lawyer must be willing to take your case to trial if the amount offered to settle is not reasonable.
Be Willing to Take Your Case to Trial
Whether you love him or hate him, you have to agree Donald Trump has a proven track record in negotiation. To paraphrase him in “The Art of the Deal,” you can never negotiate successfully if you are not willing to walk away from the table.
As it pertains to your case, if the claims adjuster knows you are not willing to go to trial, you are completely at his/ her mercy.
That’s why it’s so important to hire an attorney who can, and will, take your case to trial if you do not get an appropriate offer.
Sometimes you have to show your fangs
When I was a very young attorney, my boss gave me some great advice. You have to show people you are willing to go to battle. Over my career, I have tried many cases after being told by claims adjusters my client didn’t stand a chance to win. On more than one occasion, the adjuster found out they were sadly mistaken. As I like to remind them, no claims adjuster ever got fired for settling a case. The same cannot be said when they get soundly defeated at trial.
For that reason, I have been successfully able to negotiate great deals where other attorneys declined to even get involved. I will fight for your rights zealously and without surrender.
As a trial attorney, if I accept your case, I am willing to try your case. Any attorney that does not take that some point of view is doing you a disservice. In short, sometimes you have to show your fangs!