Settling out of Court

If your wrongful death lawsuit is large enough, and the parties have offered a large sum of money, then accepting that early settlement offer may provide money for your and your family to buy a home, a car, go to college, pay off a mortgage and supply financial security.

Instead of waiting, going through the enormous stress, delay and cost of a trial, and asking some people that you never met before decide the fate of your case.

Let’s face it, jury trials are usually a risk, and sometimes you open the door and invite in results that you never expected. Not everyone walks away from the Courthouse with a big grin and full pockets. There are winners, losers, and everything in between.

Settlements can be more favorable than a verdict. A valid and binding settlement avoids the risk of getting a low verdict amount, a loss, or even winning big but losing it all on a appeal.  Settlements may happen faster than waiting for a trial.

When most of my clients think of a settlement, they usually think of a bunch of money that just gets offered out of the blue because their case is so great. The usual way that a settlement happens in a wrongful death case can actually be vastly different.

Many wrongful death settlements happen just before the trial starts, or near the end of the trial. The insurance company often wants to see if you  and your personal injury lawyer know what you are doing, if the evidence has been well presented.

They want to observe who is on the jury, if they are paying attention to the case, if they are from conservative backgrounds, or maybe if they have been sobbing and teary eyed throughout the trial in apparent sympathy.

The insurance companies routinely want to see all the cards played out, and sometimes they fold before that final jury verdict card is turned over.

As the wrongful death lawsuit works its way through the usually slow court system, with motions, depositions, exhibits, testimony, experts and costs, there may be twists and turns in the perception or opinions about the money value of the case.

There may be opportunities to settle the case and at each fork in the road, an experienced wrongful death personal injury attorney will give you a status update and explore settlement opportunities as they present themselves.

If your wrongful death suit claim has received a tempting settlement offer, here are some of many considerations:

Is the settlement full and final?

Are all the proper survivors joined in the lawsuit?

Is there a dispute between survivors as to how the settlement money will be divided?

Have you seen a breakdown of the proposed settlement, b-e-f-o-r-e you accepted it?

There may be costs or expenses that you did not fully expect; there may be medical liens or repayments to insurance carriers, for example.

Is the settlement intended to be only against one person out of several, and if so, make sure that the settlement terms, conditions and paperwork such as releases and orders of dismissal are crystal clear -that you are still permitted to continue with your lawsuit and claims against the remaining persons or company.

Is the dollar amount of the settlement appropriate? This is a great topic to discuss in a free no obligation consultation.