Once we have completed the investigation phase, we’ll be in a position to evaluate more accurately the worth of your claim. This sets the stage for us to begin negotiating with insurance representatives and/or lawyers in an attempt to settle your claim. We usually notify, as soon as possible, the other party or parties involved by letter informing them that we represent you, and that they are not to contact you.
We request that they contact their own insurance company, so that their insurance company claims representative or lawyer will contact us regarding negotiation or settlement. In appropriate cases, we will make every effort to settle your case without the necessity of filing suit with all its expenses and delays. In other cases, we may form a judgment that it is better to immediately file a formal lawsuit rather than attempting to settle the case before filing suit. Each case is different, and we make this determination on the basis of the particular circumstances of your case.
As we review your case, we will form judgments about the predicted outcome in terms of both winning and value. To win we must convince a jury that the wrongdoer was careless, or that the product was unnecessarily or unexpectedly hazardous, or that professional conduct in treating your medical condition was substandard. At the same time, those who represent the wrongdoer (called the defendant after suit is filed) will try to defeat your case, or diminish its value substantially, by criticizing you as having been careless, inattentive or negligent in putting yourself in the predicament that led to injury. Necessarily, there is an unavoidable uncertainty in trying a lawsuit for you. The people who make up a jury are different; some may be inclined to sympathize and identify with you greatly, while others may be unsympathetic by virtue of their own experience and background. Our objective is to maximize a just compensation for you. Since our firm has represented thousands of injured people during the past 90 years, we’ve developed a wealth of experience in trying and in evaluating cases. As you might expect, the legal proof and strength of your case affects the value of any judgment. The severity and permanency of any injuries, together with the costs of medical treatment, and wage and income loss all enter into our assessment of the value of your case.
At the appropriate time, we will discuss with you our own judgment as to the value of your case. Often, we will express the value in terms of a probability of winning or losing, along with a probability or range of values. Quite frankly, it is impossible to predict a specific outcome in any case. We will appreciate your thoughts on the value of your case as two-way communication is important to us in this regard.
Most cases settle. Insurance companies conduct investigations just as we do. Under the rules of discovery following the filing of a lawsuit, we can learn as much about the other side’s case as they can about ours. By virtue of this exchange of information, the lawyers from both sides will have a very accurate prediction of what the evidence will be in most cases. Insurance companies will compare your case to similar cases in our vicinity and nationwide.
The lines of communication between you and our office for negotiated settlements always will remain open. Things may change during the course of representing you. Sometimes witnesses become unavailable due to sickness, death or relocation. Witnesses in trial may forget details that are important, change their minds or become frightened by questioning. These factors, and a great many others, affect the value of your case in front of a jury and settlement negotiations. Settlements can be agreed to at any stage of your case, even after a trial has begun or a verdict rendered. It is not unusual for cases to be settled by the parties after a final judgment, while the matter is on appeal.
We will give you our best advice as to whether you should accept or reject any offer of settlement. Some people are satisfied with an offer, which we believe is entirely too low. Others are dissatisfied with an offer, although we recommend that it be accepted. As your attorney, we serve as your agent and your decision will be respected.