Clients are often fearful of going to trial because of the stress, time and expense that it takes. Trial is undoubtedly a very difficult process. Most clients get extremely nervous about the idea of taking the stand, and having to tell their story to a room full of strangers. Even worse, the thought of family or friends being dragged into trial is often so burdensome that the client will refuse going to trial. The good news is that 90% of cases settle before trial. A case can settle from the very first day, or even days into trial. There is no cutoff point for settlement discussions. The courts are overwhelmed with cases going to trial and encourage parties to settle, even during trial. With these facts in mind, it is important to talk to your attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Newport Beach CA trusts, about reasonable settlement figures so that you are mentally prepared when these discussions arise.
Most clients have no idea what their case is worth, but they often want much more than reality because they hear about settlements of friends and neighbors. A typical layperson does not understand why one case will settle for a few thousand dollars, while another will settle for millions. A skilled attorney can explain the differences and spectrum of where your case should resolve.
The biggest mistake is to have completely unrealistic expectations when attempting to settle your case. If your goals are unrealistic, it will not settle. If your attorney has hired similar cases, then s/he is the best person to accurately assess the value of your case and give you a range that is reasonable. It is extremely important that you trust your attorney’s judgment and have confidence that s/he will get you the best settlement that they can. The best cases are when the lawyer and client can have a discussion about the value and agree on a range that is worth settling.
There are many advantages to settling your case rather than going to trial. Settling your case gives you a guaranteed amount of money, without the risk and hassle of trial. Another advantage is that you are often paid within 30-90 days after settling, and there is no risk of appeal (or change of heart). There is also a great deal of relief in having the case resolved, and being able to move on to the next chapter of your life. Most cases do not get to trial until several years have passed, and that can create enormous stress.
Having discussions about your case early and often with your lawyer will help you better understand its real value. Although you can always turn down a settlement offer, and take your case to trial, it is worth your effort to engage in negotiations and determine if a fair outcome is possible.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Bruno Nalu for their insight into concerns about trials.