E.L. a 36 year old former client, contacted Lipkin & Apter complaining of injuries sustained in an unusual motor vehicle accident. E.L. and her husband owned 2 cars. The brakes went out on one and she called a tow company to bring that car to a repair shop. When the tow truck driver arrived, E.L. told him not to attempt to drive the car in any direction, because it had no brakes. EL then sat in her second car, which was parked behind her disabled car, waiting for it to be mechanically hoisted onto the tow truck, which she would then follow to the repair shop. Despite her instructions, the tow truck driver put the disabled car in reverse, which slammed into the car E.L. was sitting in, causing her back injuries and lost time from work.
Work Income Lost and $20,000 in Special Damages
E.L. received physical therapy for several weeks and a series of trigger point injections in her back for pain. She lost several weeks of work as a beautician.
In all, E.L. had more than $20,000 in special damages.
Negotiations Result in Almost Double the Initial Settlement Offer
Initial negotiations with the tow truck insurance company failed to settle the case - $27,500 was offered - and suit was filed. Shortly thereafter insurance adjuster called to continue settlement negotiations. A $5,000 increase was offered and again rejected. Yet another offer raised the settlement to $40,000, which was rejected as well. The offer was increased to $50,000, which E.L. accepted, in part because of a family emergency, and EL’s immediate need for money.
Financial Needs of Client Drive the Case
Lipkin & Apter did not believe the $50,000 offer was sufficient, and that E.L.’s case would have greater value at trial. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and the large backlog of cases in Cook County, trial was at least 1 ½ years away. The decision to accept settlement often depends on the financial needs of our client, rather than the projected outcome of a case.
Justice is Served When Client is Satisfied
Clients will almost always ask us whether they should accept settlement. While we will always review the merits of a case, what we can’t comment on is the life situation of our client. So we urge clients to carefully weigh their current need for money, and the certainty of receiving money, vs. the uncertainty of receiving a greater amount later, and make the decision that is best for them and their family. In this case, E.L. decided that accepting $50,000 was right for her and her family, and was pleased to settle. One way of defining justice in the legal system is when a client is satisfied with the outcome of a case. This can occurs only when the client understands the pros and cons of her case, the procedure which must be followed, the time frame of the case, and considers the individual circumstances of her life. When a client is pleased with the outcome of her case, so, too, are we.