Settlements are often preferable to going to trial since they can save both time and legal costs. However, if you decide to take the settlement route, the process of determining a fair amount for which to settle your injury claim can be difficult since it is dependent on multiple factors.
To determine the amount of a settlement, both sides begin by deciding on their own what they think the case is worth. In other words, what a potential jury might award the plaintiff if the case went to trial. This is generally done by researching similar cases to see what juries have awarded in the past, and then factoring in the circumstances of the case at hand. In the event that an insurance company is handling the defendant’s side, there might be predetermined settlement amounts depending on the type of lawsuit.
Once both sides have come up with an estimate for an acceptable settlement amount, they will begin making offers and counter-offers. As the facts become clearer and the likelihood of the plaintiff prevailing at trial is fleshed out, the prospective amount may go higher or lower. Once the sides agree on an acceptable settlement amount, they will sign a settlement agreement and the plaintiff then proceeds to drop the case. The following are some key factors that can help determine the potential value of a settlement:
- The defendant’s assets- If a defendant doesn’t have the means to pay a high settlement, then a high settlement won’t be a possibility regardless of the facts of the case.
- Damages- For the plaintiff, this entails what their injuries cost monetarily, physically, and mentally. Damages can also include medical expenses, lost work, and any other concrete financial losses suffered by the plaintiff.
- Liability- This is a strong determinant for how strong the plaintiff’s case actually is, i.e. is the defendant liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Even if high damages can be shown, liability will still be the crucial issue.