One of the weightiest decisions a person injured in an accident will need to make is whether to settle or take the personal injury case to trial. The decision is unique to the facts of the case and his financial and personal circumstances. One size does not fit all. Starting with our very first meeting, the Lipkin & Apter attorneys will endeavor to keep you honestly informed about the strengths and weaknesses of your case- to view it through our eyes. While we will not hesitate to counsel you in this regard, ultimately, we cannot settle a case, nor reject a settlement, without your permission. What are some of the factors you should consider in deciding whether to settle or proceed to trial?
Can You Win?
First and foremost, you must understand your chances of winning your case. While this is easily achieved in most workers compensation cases, where proof of an employers negligence is not required, it cannot be taken for granted in a personal injury case, where negligence is a very definite hurdle to be overcome.
Poor liability reduces the value of your case; certain liability maximizes case value.
Even a person with a grievous injury cannot ignore questionable liability. After all, the jury certainly will not.
What is the Nature of Your Injury?
Second, what is the nature and extent of your injuries?
- What type of medical treatment have you undergone?
- Will you require future medical treatment?
- How much are your medical bills?
- How long were you off work?
- When you returned to work, was it full, unrestricted duty, or light duty?
- Is your injury permanent in nature, as determined by a doctor? If not, is your injury short term or long term? A permanent injury to a 40 yr old will generally have greater value than a similar injury to a 75 yr old Why? The extra years that a 40 yr old will have to endure the effects of their injury.
Does the Injury Impact Your Life?
Closely related to the nature and extent analysis is the impact of injury on a person’s life. Do you have ongoing social/recreational activities that have been interfered with? A hand injury to a musician that prevents them from performing has significant potential value. Similarly, an ankle injury to an ice skater.
What's the Value and the Risk?
Another factor to be weighed is the upside value of your case compared with the downsize risk. This is very tricky, and requires straight rather than wishful thinking. A settlement offer of $50,000 on an injury your attorney thinks may be worth $1,000,000 at trial may be worth accepting the risk of losing at trial; an offer of $25,000 may be worth accepting if the upside value of the case is $50,000, even if liability is favorable.
Your Circumstances Matter
Personal factors are often decisive in deciding whether to accept settlement. Someone out of work with family responsibilities may not be in a position to prolong litigation by rejecting a settlement offer, even if counseled that the case has a strong upside.
- Can you afford to wait a year or two, for your case to proceed to trial?
- Will you be able to pay your bills during this time?
Some clients do not want to go to trial, despite carefully being prepped, despite assurances that their testimony will be less anxiety producing than is feared.
Be Comfortable with your Counsel
The attorneys at Lipkin & Apter believe that the more a client knows about their case, the more knowledgeable about the law, the better will be the decision when the time comes to either accept settlement or go to trial. Our goal is for you to be satisfied with the outcome of your case. To achieve this, we recognize that our clients have to be comfortable with the person representing them. Which is why at Lipkin & Apter our clients always know who to contact with a question, that we will explain legal concepts to you in a language you can understand, and that you will be accorded the dignity and respect you deserves.