Many people who suffer a serious injury are reluctant to hire an injury attorney because “I don’t want to end up in court.” In reality, very few cases end up in front of a jury. Most claims settle long before then.
The real reason to settle an injury claim rather than trying it in front of a jury trial is summed up in two words: reducing risk. As you sit there waiting for 6 jurors to return their verdict, you will get full value of your case. You may not like the value a jury puts on your case, but you’ve run the gamut and you’re about to find out what your peers think about you and your injuries. That’s a 100% return of some unknown value.
Anytime a case is settled short of a jury trial, there is a reduction in risk, but in exchange for that, there is also a discount to the 100% return of the case since a jury didn’t decide it. When we settle a case “in demand” and without filing suit (about 65% of the time), a client might not net as much as if he litigated the claim, but the trade-off can be tremendous. You might get close to full value, you’ll have a lesser percentage attorney’s fee, no court costs and a much quicker settlement. Some cases in litigation can drag on for years and cases generally don’t get better with age, they can go stale.
Probably the closest a client can get to full value on their claim is in mediation. After a demand has been sent and there is a stalemate in resolving the claim, litigation is often the solution. This is what people know as “filing a lawsuit”. After full discovery has been taken (depositions, interrogatories, request for production, et al) the parties will head to a settlement conference known as mediation.
Since mediation is the step just prior to a full jury trial, the parties have shown to be risk adverse up to this point – that is willing to take the risk of the full litigation process – and mediated valuations tend to be higher than those settled in demand. This isn’t always true, but usually. A bad case will still be a bad case whether litigated or not. But mediations have proven to be enormously effective in resolving cases short of trying them with a jury.
A mediation is just an arm-twisting session where there are no pronouncements or judgments, just an impartial mediator who attempts to get both sides to resolve the issue of valuation of their injury claim. When a mediation is successful both sides are fairly miserable. And this is true 100% of the time. A Plaintiff has usually had to reduce their expectations to somewhere south of where they were hoping to go, but then the Defendant has almost always offered more than where they wanted to stop.
Why walk away from a mediation miserable? See paragraph #2 above. Next stop: You’re about to find out from 6 of jurors of your peers the full 100% value of your claim, but that could be any number from $0 to twice your expectations or anywhere in between. In my experience, many injury clients would rather resolve their claim for a known quantity than let it rest in the hands of jurors who may or may not have understood their medical condition and may or may not empathize with their plight.
A good personal injury attorney will always guide a client during the process in how to weigh the options.
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