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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.  For clients that are risk adverse, it sometimes makes sense to settle for less than the median or average settlement value because there is so much money on the line they simply do not want to take the risk.  

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 older 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

In 2018, these statistics are probably not much different.  As self-serving as this statement may be, it is worth noting that our law firm has very different statistics.  In the last few years, our average result in jury trials is more than 10 times what the settlement offer.

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, inferior plaintiffs' lawyers - or clients handling their own cases in some cases - are far more likely to misread the tea leaves on case value... and good lawyering makes a difference too. In other words, take these statistics with a grain of salt.

Forgive us beating this drum again, but this applies not only to our law firm but other quality law firms with a real track record of success.  Miller & Zois clients who have gone to trial have had a very different experience.  Sure, we have lost a very small number of cases.  But our attorneys have won the vast majority of our cases.  In those wins, particularly in serious injury and wrongful death cases, are usually a large multiple of more than 10 times of the settlement offer.  On numerous occasions, we have won verdicts for our clients over a million dollars when the settlement offer was zero. 

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 [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.

Getting a Lawyer in Your Corner to Fight to Get You the Most Money Possible

Our attorneys handle only serious injury car and truck accident, product liability and medical malpractice cases in Maryland. In particularly serious injury and death cases, we represent clients 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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Client Reviews
They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa