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Deciding Your Fate

Judge's gavel on money - Lamb & Frischer Law FirmTo Settle Or Go To Trial

You might not know, but you can only settle a case once. This means that as you approach the settlement of a personal injury claim, you want to have a good idea of its trajectory, as well as those of your medical needs. You’ll also want a sense of whether you’ll need to take more time off from work in the future. Not having an idea of these things when you settle means you may not be adequately compensated for the long and hard road ahead.

An attorney’s job is to prepare for worst-case scenarios. This often involves waiting until you have sufficiently advanced through medical treatment to gain a clear understanding of the future implications of your injuries. However, settling at this stage is contingent upon the insurance company offering a sum that fully compensates you. If their offer falls short of what you deserve, it’s not the right time to settle – you simply shouldn’t accept less than what you’re entitled to.

We recommend going to trial when this is the case. Something like 95% of personal injury claims reach a settlement without going to trial. Many lawyers are very experienced in evaluating cases, as are most adjusters and defense attorneys. We typically say that if you end up in a trial, someone messed up their analysis of the case. That said, when issues preventing settlement exist, it’s often the insurance adjuster undervaluing a case or the defense attorney not being realistic. If this is the case, we advise our clients to go to trial because it’s the only way to force the insurance company to pay you what you’re actually entitled to.

Yet, at the same time, there is a considerable amount of risk associated with going to trial. There’s uncertainty regarding whether a jury will accurately determine fault and award the damages our client deserves. Juries typically render fair decisions, but there are plenty of instances where outcomes end up not aligning with how we anticipated things unfolding. So, there’s always that risk that you might do worse than the last settlement offer you received.

There’s a significant risk that the outcome of a trial might be less favorable than the last settlement offer received. We leverage our experience and expertise to counsel clients on the risks associated with proceeding to trial. Additionally, even if a jury makes a decision that is found to be in error, the appeals process can be long and expensive. Even if you win an appeal, the result may be a new trial after a year or more of delay.

Considering all these things, along with the expenses involved in trial preparation, you need to evaluate whether the potential gains from going to trial outweigh the risks you expose yourself to. If you could attain the same amount through settlement as you would after the costs, fees, and increased risks of trial, accepting the pre-trial offer is often the wise choice, as it puts more money in your pocket without the uncertainties and expenses of trial.

There is serious leg work on our end to work up a case close to trial. Not only do we have to prepare for a trial in order to get the best result, but being also shows the insurance company how serious we are. This approach sets us apart from firms that some might refer to as a settlement mill, or firms solely focused on settling cases quickly. They likely are leaving money on the table. We believe in pushing the case as close to trial as necessary, or to trial, to secure the best possible result for our clients.

Being willing to go to trial signals to the insurance company that we are serious about pursuing the full compensation our clients deserve. If we don’t convey this seriousness, the insurance company may perceive us as less likely to proceed to trial and may offer lower settlement amounts accordingly.

Our firm is dedicated to being fully prepared for trial and trying cases when necessary. Adopting this approach is our way of realizing our aim to negotiate from a position of strength and achieve the most favorable outcomes for our clients, even if trial ultimately proves unnecessary.

Hurting Your Case

What you post on social media can significantly impact your personal injury case. Even if your profile is private, and even if your posts are consistent with what your injuries are, things you post on it can end up in the hands of insurance companies and defense attorneys. For instance, posting photos while on vacation, even if they only show you doing things you claim to be capable of doing, can be used against you in court. A good example of this is a picture of simply lounging by a pool or something to that effect. The defense will likely point to this to argue that your injury isn’t hindering your life as much as you’ve stated, even if in reality you are lounging by a pool to alleviate your back pain.

. On top of this, if you’re in a lawsuit, the defense has a right to subpoena records or request records from you. This means that, even if you’re sending direct messages or pictures to others privately, the defense has a right to request those communications in a lawsuit if they relate to the incident or injuries. So it’s possible they can get your social media pictures.

An insurance company might hire an investigator to take photos or videos of you engaging in activities that seem to run against what you’re able to do with your claimed injuries, such as riding a bike or participating in physical activities. This may happen if you’re just doing something like merely moving a bike from your lawn to your garage, not even riding it. What matters here is the image, not the reality. An investigator can observe and film you while in a public space. You are not protected by privacy rights when you are partaking in activities in public.

One way to combat this is to be honest about your injuries and limitations. When you’re honest, even if there is surveillance, it would not contradict your injury claim. Pushing yourself to perform in pain or beyond the limitations set by your doctors or physical therapists could result in a video or photos of you performing in a manner that appears inconsistent with your injuries and limitations.

Not seeking appropriate medical treatment or not following your doctor’s advice could impact your case. However, there are instances where you may understandably opt out of risky medical procedures, and juries generally understand these decisions. It’s important not to outright reject them, because you may change your mind in the future, or the recommended procedure may become necessary rather than optional as time passes. Consult with your doctor before making any decisions about medical treatment. This is an important step to mitigate any risks associated with future medical care and expenses.

For more information on Settlement Of A Personal Injury Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 966-4471 today.

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