Will Going To Trial Affect The Overall Cost Of The Personal Injury Process As Well As My Settlement?
Unfortunately yes. Going to trial means that the lawyer has to be prepared, present witnesses, bring in medical records, and spend time and resources on the situation. Most retainer agreements afford that for the attorney. For example, any calls you use to bring your case forward, i.e., medical records, police records, or expert witnesses. All of those are considered costs, and those are typically deducted from the settlement amount or the jury verdict amount awarded. So yes, you tend to spend more just in terms of what it may cost to get to trial, but those expenses should also be reflected in the jury verdict itself. It’s necessary to prevail upon the jury that you have high cost and interest here, but it is also deducted from whatever you’re awarding.
Am I Guaranteed To Get A Larger Settlement If I Take My Personal Injury Case To Trial And I Win? Could I End Up With Less Than The Original Settlement Amount?
No attorneys should not guarantee you anything from a jury verdict. They have no control over what a 12-person jury might do, or in Missouri, we have to have 9 out of 12 to agree to a particular verdict. Nobody can guarantee what that might mean. So if you’re offered a larger settlement before you go to trial, is it possible to get the jury verdict that might be less than the settlement offer? The answer is an absolute yes because the lawyers do not know what the jury would do.
I believe that is a critical discussion to have with your client to make sure that they understand the full impact of going to trial. Whether that may mean more money, less money, or no money. I tell the clients the case should be looked at from a different perspective when it boils down to the money. It needs to be looked at from a “What can I control now” versus “What I may have in the future.” Money is a time value and a meaningful discussion, but I think nobody should go into a trial thinking that they’re going to get more money simply because they’re going to trial. That is not so. It’s not in the lawyer’s hands. It’s up to the jury, and who knows what they might believe at any given point.
What Are Some Easy Mistakes That You’ve Seen Injured Persons Make That Could Potentially Reduce A Settlement Or Ruin Their Chances Of Getting Any Settlement At All?
Let’s stick with the old stuff first. Don’t admit liability to the other driver in the accident. You never know if you’re going to be recorded or have your picture taken, so don’t accept liability because the insurance company will use that to minimize any damage that you might have, or they’ll even try to stop you from claiming your damages.
Other than talking to the police, don’t make any comments about the accident to anyone. You never know what that person is going to do. You also want to make sure that if there are any witnesses around, you want to get their names and addresses and make sure the police department gets their names and addresses on the police report. Later on, they can be contacted to give their viewpoint on the accident. Never talk to the insurance company without a lawyer. They will always call you within a day or two after the accident to try to get a recorded statement, and it is always for the simple purpose of excluding or reducing your injuries. Never talk to them without a lawyer.
You’ll be surprised how many times they come back and hurt the person’s case. People think that if they talk to the insurance company, they won’t need a lawyer, and the insurance company will take care of it. They will not. The other mistake is everybody wants to be on social media now. They want to show pictures of the accident and want to talk about what’s going on. They want to show them doing things that an injured person won’t do. For example, if I hurt myself in a car accident, going skiing down a big mountain will not be a good thing to show because you can bet the insurance company and the defense attorney will show you skiing or lifting something very heavy to the jury. You want to make sure that you’re not doing anything to preclude you from a fair settlement or award.
Likewise, you also want to make sure that you don’t reach out to the defendant or the other driver and try to make a settlement outside of court. Take pictures of everything that happened. If you can, take photos of everything at the scene. You want to make sure you preserve everything, but most times, people don’t. They want to get in and out of it, and they don’t do things they should do. We have a card at my office, and when I speak with anybody, we send the card to them so they can put it in the glove compartment. It is called “Things to do when you’re in an automobile accident,” so at least you can have a checklist of things that you need to get before you leave that scene.
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