Should I Settle My Case or Go to Trial?

auto accident

At some point before the jury comes back with a verdict, the vast majority of our clients receive a settlement offer, often a substantial one. The decision they have to make is hard but there are only two options: settle or let the jury decide.

Our law firm gives our clients guidance on what we think is in their best interests under all of the circumstances. But, ultimately, we can't put ourselves entirely in our client's shoes. Our lawyers cannot know each client's personal risk tolerance, financial obligations, or willingness to endure a trial (which is fun for some clients and absolute torture for others) We try to keep in mind that we have lots of cases -- our client has just the one.

The prevailing wisdom is that if a case goes to a jury, one or both of the parties have miscalculated. Who miscalculates more? Here is some statistical information that looks at jury verdicts across the country and looks at the median final demand, final offer, and jury award in personal injury cases:

YearFinal DemandFinal OfferAward Median
2005$ 90,957$17,500$37,158
2006$ 85,000$18,106$37,139
2007$ 60,291$17,500$37,376
2008$ 80,004$25,000$40,000

At first glance, these numbers tell you that plaintiffs miscalculate more often than defense lawyers do. But, these are median as opposed to average verdicts. The average is much higher than the median. Also, I think that inferior plaintiffs' lawyers - or clients handling their own cases in some cases - are far more likely to misread the tea leafs on case value... and good lawyering makes a different too. In other words, take this all with a grain of salt.

It is also worthwhile to remember what we are talking about here. Even if you accept the premise of these numbers, getting to the insurance company's final offer takes more than a mere demand package [see a sample here]. It would be interesting to know what the pre-suit, as opposed to the pretrial settlement, average/median was in these cases. We would bet it is less than half of their final offer.

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Our attorneys handle only serious injury car and truck accident, product liability and medical malpractice cases in Maryland and, in particularly serious cases, throughout the country. If you have been injured by a defective product, medical malpractice, truck accident, car accident, or motorcycle accident, call to speak to one of our malpractice or accident attorneys at 800-553-8082 or get an almost instant free no obligation consultation.

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