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Should I settle my personal injury case or go to trial?

My attorney brought me an offer to settle my personal injury case. My question is how do I know if I should take it. My attorney says I should, but maybe he just wants a quick buck so he can move on to other cases. So how do I know?

 
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Editor's Response

The reason so many personal injury cases settle before trial is that both parties fear the uncertainty of what might happen if they go to trial.  You simply never know how a jury will respond to the evidence, to the parties, or to the attorneys.  Frequently, parties to a dispute will enter arbitration or mediation rather than go to trial to avoid that uncertainty and, especially when the parties choose non-binding dispute resolution, to get some idea of how a third party (the arbitrator or mediator) will respond to the parties and the evidence.  The bottom line is that going to trial is expensive, risky, and can wear on the emotions and psyches of all parties.

 

This information may come a bit late for you, but it may help others in the future.  The best way to know whether your attorney is giving you good information is to do a good job in the selection process.  If you hire an attorneys who is responsive to your questions, who you trust, and who has a ton of experience with personal injury cases, then you will trust him or her when he recommends settlement.  You will know that he has used his experience to analyze the case and make a determination about what you can realistically expect to get as compensation for your damages. Experience is king.  If your attorney has it, he can make a valid estimation of your best outcome, your opponent's best outcome, and where the middle ground is (the number that makes sense for settlement).

 

In your case, where you obviously have doubts about your attorney, you need to talk to him and ask him to explain the numbers, something he should be able to do. Be persistent, and make sure he explains his opinion in terms and language you understand.  You should also be able to take some comfort from the contingency fee system.  Let's face it, since your attorney is going to get some percentage of your settlement, like you, he has a strong incentive to get as much as he can in settlement.  Sure, you could be correct:  He might just want to grab a quick settlement.  However, if he has appraised your case and believes he could get 30% of a $100,000 jury award, would he really settle for 30% of $50,000 settlement offer?  For more information or to post a question, visit our MA Personal Injury Discussion Forum.

 

 

Good luck.

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