Should I Accept a Settlement Offer?
Hi. My name is Joe Moses and I’m a personal injury attorney. I’m based in Chicago. I’m one of the founding partners of the law office of Kass and Moses. For the last 30 years, we’ve represented injured motorcyclists and bicyclists to get help and compensation for their injuries. Today, I’m going to answer a question that I often get from clients, and that is I have hired a motorcycle accident attorney, and they presented me with a settlement offer and I don’t think it’s the right amount to accept. Do I have to accept what my lawyer recommends?
And so my answer to that is, first, I will always give my very strong recommendation. I base that on my experience as an attorney. I base that on the 30 years I’ve practiced. But we also base it on some very practical things. There’s something called jury verdicts, which we can compare similar injuries, similar locations, similar types of accidents and see people that have taken that to a jury trial. What have they gotten in those cases? How much money was awarded? Also as an attorney I have experience and knowledge about negotiations, so I’m negotiating with the insurance adjuster usually for at least several weeks at the time that we maybe have reached an impasse. And so I am able to assess whether I think we’ve gone far enough or whether I think that there is more movement I can get out of that insurance company. So when I’m telling you, my client, that I think we’ve gone as far as we can, that means we’re not moving that insurance adjuster anymore. We always have the opportunity to take it to a jury trial but we’re not going to be able to negotiate a better option.
And then finally, we look at the risk factors. Both the insurance company and you as the client are looking at risk factors. Will I do worse if I go to trial? It’s our job to give you a warning about whether we think you would do worse at trial. So in order to make your determination, it’s very reasonable to agree, but it’s important to know the pros and cons of going to trial. And really, the cons come down to time, money, and risk. So time: it is very likely that it will take probably an additional year to two years to get to a trial from the point of negotiations. It’s well worth waiting that time if you can do better, if they’re not giving you an appropriate resolution for your case. But just remember that there is time, you have to factor that in.
Second of all, money. There’s costs to going to a jury trial. It costs a lot of money to try a case. Most experienced attorneys realize that at least $50,000 of costs to pay doctors and experts to testify on your behalf is what it’s going to cost to go to trial on your case. So to go to trial and your case could cost an extra $50,000. That’s going to come out of any resolution. So if you choose to go to trial, make sure that you understand that risk. And then finally, the risk of doing worse. You could end up with a result that’s worse than the one that we’ve negotiated for you. So understand that, too.
But in the end, it is your choice, attribute the risk. I believe that communication and trust with your attorney is the most important thing. And with that, then, make your decision and the lawyer can choose to either go along with that or you can get another lawyer but you should get out of this what you feel is appropriate. If you have any further questions, I can always be reached. I am at 1-800-MOTORCYCLE. You can call me directly at 877-292-5344. Thank you very much.