One thing we always tell our clients: whether or not to accept a settlement offer is always up to the client.
But, the attorney is there to represent your wishes with the upmost diligence and skill. With that in mind, you should always think long and hard before you reject your attorney’s recommendation to accept a settlement. If you choose your attorney carefully, your attorney has years of experience handling your type of case. Those years of experience mean that your lawyer is going to evaluate properly your claim, help you make the most informed decision possible, and what a jury might give you if you go to trial.
Additionally, your attorney probably is being truthful about the insurance company’s offer simply because the law requires your attorney to be truthful in these matters lest they lose their law license. Just explain your concerns about the settlement offer so your attorney can address all of your concerns. Then listen carefully when your attorney explains why they are recommending a particular course of action, and ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
Why Your Attorney May Want to Settle (Even If You Don’t)
Keep in mind that one of the reasons your attorney may wish to settle is because, based upon your attorney’s experience, your case is weak, or you are not a sympathetic victim. The more sympathy a jury feels for a victim, the more the jury will award. If an attorney believes a jury will have little sympathy for you, your attorney may believe you should avoid trial and settle. If you have a weak case (you can’t connect your injuries to the accident or you may partially have been at fault) your attorney should know this and take this into account when recommending settlement. The attorney may be relieved at the amount of the settlement offer on the table. In fact, based on previous cases, your attorney may have reason to believe that the settlement offer is more than you can expect a jury to give you.
Keep in mind that most accident/personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency basis. That means the more money they get for you, the more money they get for themselves. Therefore, it is always against an attorney’s self-interest to take one penny less than the full value of your case.
Trials Can Be Lengthy and Expensive
Your attorney may also advise that you settle because trials are lengthy and expensive. If you want to see your money within the next year, then settlement is almost your only option. Also, keep in mind that while the attorney fronts the costs of a trial, those costs come out of any jury award. Because trials cost so much money, your attorney only will recommend trial if they believe a jury will award a lot more than the settlement offer.
Your attorney may recommend you turn down the settlement and go to trial when he or she is convinced the defendant is offering a significant amount less than what experience says a jury would award. If that is the case, it may be best to endure the long trial process rather than take a smaller amount now.
A car crash can be one of the most significant events of your life. That is why it is important to hire the most experienced attorney to guide you through these decisions (and rarely are they found on billboards.)