Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Settlement
Jul 31, 2019 - Personal Injury
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to another’s fault, then you may be interested in securing a settlement from the responsible defendant — after all, litigation can be quite a burden. Obtaining comprehensive legal representation is a crucial first step in moving forward with your claims.
We encourage prospective plaintiffs to contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC to learn more about how a personal injury settlement lawyer at our firm can provide the guidance necessary to maximize their settlement recoveries. We currently operate five offices in Pennsylvania in order to better serve our clients: in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Stroudsburg, and Easton.
Understanding the Reasoning Behind a Settlement
In civil disputes, parties may choose to avoid litigation and resolve the underlying conflict through a settlement negotiation. In fact, the large majority of cases — personal injury and otherwise — are resolved through the settlement process, as opposed to litigation.
How does a settlement work, exactly?
Suppose that you are injured in a trip and fall case while shopping at the defendant’s retail store. You sustain roughly $100,000 in damages, and the facts indicate that the defendant did not properly inspect and maintain their store, giving rise to numerous defects that contributed to your injuries. The defendant may want to avoid extensive litigation, however, and may therefore make a reasonable settlement offer to avoid going through litigation — perhaps $70,000 here. As the plaintiff, you would be entitled to either accept that settlement offer, put forth a counter-offer, or completely reject the possibility of settlement and move forward with litigation.
Why do parties so often prefer to settle their dispute as opposed to going through the formal litigation process?
Factors that influence the decision to pursue settlement include:
- Cost (financial, time, effort) of litigation
- Negative publicity of litigation
- Uncertainty of a “win” in subsequent litigation
- Uncertainty of securing maximum damages in subsequent litigation
Stated simply: litigation is fundamentally costly, uncertain, and could lead to significant brand perception problems. For these (and various other reasons), parties typically prefer to settle their disputes.
Settlement Maximization Demands Skillful Legal Advocacy
Party predisposition towards settlement may convince some plaintiffs to avoid legal representation and deal with the defendant directly — this is an absolutely enormous strategic mistake, however, and does not account for the true calculus underlying effective settlement negotiations.
Settlement is a sensible decision when the ultimate result of litigation is uncertain, and when the conflict is likely to be hard-fought, difficult, and lengthy. If the plaintiff moves forward with their dispute lacking professional legal representation, then they are an “easy target” in subsequent litigation — the defendant will either offer a minimal settlement or will actively pursue litigation in an effort to take advantage of your lacking legal expertise (and end the dispute easily).
Skillful legal advocacy marks the difference between successful and unsuccessful settlement negotiations. This can be a challenge to clarify without diving into vague concepts and excessive “legalese,” so let’s explore this issue through a brief example.
Suppose that you are injured in a car accident. You have sustained $100,000 in total damages and sent a demand letter to the defendant-driver in which you request that they pay your damages in full. The defendant-driver disagrees that they were operating their vehicle in a negligent manner, however, and they also dispute the fact that you sustained $100,000 in total damages.
Now, this back-and-forth is core to the settlement negotiation process. It’s uncommon for parties to agree to the initial settlement offer.
In this case, let’s assume that — given the facts — you and the defendant have a 50 percent likelihood of securing a “win” should the case proceed to trial. Further, you only have a 50 percent likelihood of convincing the jury that your damages were actually $100,000 in total, and not $50,000, which the defendant is arguing.
If we “split the difference” with respect to the recovery of the damages, the total expected recovery comes out to $75,000. Then, considering the 50 percent likelihood of success at trial, the recovery amount comes out to $37,500 (accounting for the uncertainties involved). A reasonable settlement would therefore be somewhere around $37,500, which might seem rather low.
The key, then, to maximizing one’s settlement amount is to develop a legal strategy that will improve the likelihood of you “winning” the case at trial, and to identify sufficient evidence that will support your claim for damages. In the above example, if you had a 100 percent chance of winning the case were it to proceed to trial (i.e., if the defendant admitted fault), but still a 50 percent chance of convincing the jury that your damages were $100,000 in total, then you would improve your “neutral” settlement amount to $75,000 — a significant upgrade.
Legal representation, therefore, accomplishes two things: 1) it puts the defendant on notice that you are serious about your claims, so they are more likely to make a reasonable settlement offer, and 2) it ensures that your claims will be investigated and a winning litigation strategy developed such that the calculus of settlement comes out in your favor, maximizing the settlement offers.
Contact a Personal Injury Settlement Lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured in an accident due to the fault of another party (an individual or an entity, such as a business or government agency), then you may have a right of action for damages under Pennsylvania law.
Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys boast decades of experience representing the interests of those who have suffered harm In a variety of personal injury disputes, from motor vehicle accidents to slip and fall accidents. We invest significant time and resources into each case, evaluating the facts thoroughly and developing creative, tailored solutions to the underlying dispute.
Ready to move forward with your claims? Call DHD Law at 888-777-7098 or complete a case evaluation form through our website to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury settlement lawyer at our firm today. Consultation is free and confidential, and there is no obligation to continue if you decide against it.
We look forward to working with you.