Things to Think About: Settling The Case

Talk to your lawyer about his or her assessment of the case. Consider the following points.

  • Amount he or she thinks the case is worth in a range of dollar amounts
  • Verdicts and settlements in similar cases
  • Chances of winning at trial
  • Civil trials are open to the public; unfavorable publicity
  • Amount of personal information that could be revealed at trial
  • Possible disclosure of business information or trade secrets
  • When the case is likely to be called for trial
  • Practical difficulties in trying the case
  • Weaknesses in your evidence
  • Weaknesses in your opponent's evidence
  • The amount of the defendant's insurance coverage
  • The defendant's own monetary resources
  • The defendant's lawyer's negotiation tactics (your lawyer may have negotiated with the lawyer before, or has talked to other lawyers to get an idea of what to expect)
  • The extent to which your opponent is likely to play hardball
  • If you are the plaintiff, ask how much of the settlement proceeds will be applied to your lawyer's fee and your expenses.
  • If you are the plaintiff, ask how the settlement payments will affect your federal and state income taxes.
  • Talk about what you're willing to concede in order to get the case settled.
  • Discuss the minimum amount you will accept, or the maximum you will pay.
  • Consider the possibility of a partial settlement, that is, settling the easy issues first while you continue to negotiate the knotty issues.
  • If you are the plaintiff, consider accepting a remedy other than money.

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