The vast majority of cases settle out of court instead of going to trial. There are five main reasons why:

  1. Going to trial is risky because you never know what a jury is going to do. It may decide your claim is worth nothing or it may impose damages on the defendant. When you settle a case, however, you know for sure what the outcome will be.
  1. Trials can be very expensive. It often costs substantial money to take a case to court. In most personal injury cases that proceed to trial, you are required to call "expert" witnesses on your behalf to support your theory of the case. Experts may be required to prove liability as well as prove your damages and injuries. More than one medical expert may need to be called depending on the injuries involved. An economist may be required to prove economic loss and a life care planner may be required to explain your projected future expenses.
  1. Trials take a long time. It can take two to three years to get a case ready for trial and then you may have to wait for the judge to find time to hear the case since our court's dockets and judges are always busy and overcrowded. Settling a case can take significantly less time.
  1. Litigation is an adversarial process — one side is going to win and the other side is going to lose. A settlement, on the other hand, is an agreement that is acceptable to all the parties involved. Although settlements are the favored means of resolving cases, they should be approached cautiously.
  1. Finally, even if you are successful and win your trial and the jury awards you a large sum of money, the other side can, and most often will, appeal. An appeal can then take another one to two years to be decided and you may win or lose the appeal depending on what happened during the trial.

So how do you know when you are being lowballed and what to accept as a fair offer?

  • First and foremost, hire an attorney you trust, one who has experience negotiating settlements. At Jaroslawicz & Jaros we've been negotiating cases for years, so we have an idea of what each case is worth, and we do our best to get the best settlement for our clients. We keep our clients fully informed on how the negotiations are going, and the clients always make the final decision.
  • How quickly was an offer made? If the defendant's side was quick to make an offer, will it go up at least a little more if you are willing to wait and build a stronger case against it?
  • Sometimes defendants offer to settle for a much smaller amount than they are actually willing to pay just because they think the injured party is desperate for money. It is important to remember that sometimes being patient is worth the wait.
  • If you have an idea of what you think is fair, share that number and your reasoning with your attorney. If the other side makes an offer that falls into the range you consider fair and your attorney agrees the amount is reasonable, you should consider taking it even if it is an early offer.
  • Is the full extent of your damages known? It is premature to settle if you could end up needing a great deal more medical care in the future.
  • Consider the question of who is at fault in the case. If, for example, in a car accident case you are 50 percent at fault, then you should consider lowering your expectations by 50 percent.
  • How much insurance does the defendant have?

Keep these tips in mind as you speak to your lawyer and head to the negotiating table.

If you or a loved one was injured and needs legal assistance, call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 212-227-2780 or toll free in New York at 800-269-2780, or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call to ensure that you do not waive your right to compensation. Or you can email us at [email protected].