Accidents happen. A drive to the store can blow up in a puff of airbag smoke, followed by shooting pain down your leg and back, countless hours in hospital rooms, and an increasing pile of medical bills. Most lawyers love to promise big payouts for personal injury accidents like this, claiming your pain and suffering is potentially worth $1 million or more. So, when the insurance company comes back with an offer of $100,000, does that mean you should take your chances in court?
The truth is that winning in court is a tricky, time-consuming endeavor that presents risks. At KL Injury Attorneys, we are transparent about the reality of a court trial versus negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
There are many factors involved in jury trials and insurance settlements. We try to help you make the best decision that has the best outcome.
Setting expectations for trial costs and risks
At KL, we know accident injuries can affect you for a lifetime, so we want to fight for a settlement that puts you in the best position to recover and have the brightest possible future. In some cases, insurance carriers make lowball offers without factoring in the extent of your injuries or the long-term effects on your life, so filing a lawsuit is the best course of action. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, that’s when our team prepares to battle in court. We know that a group of your peers is more likely to understand the value of your injuries versus an insurance company’s algorithm.
However, we are also upfront about the risks of losing in court and the associated costs you may face. For instance, attorney fees increase for trial cases. This can incentivize law firms to push you into a court, regardless of your risk. We believe that’s irresponsible because if you lose, you will be responsible for the other party’s taxable costs. You may also potentially be on the hook for the other attorney’s fees.
So, before moving forward, we always roundtable the case as a team and discuss the practical trial value from every angle. For instance, what if you’re an accident victim with a disorder that hinders you from communicating well in a court setting? Our goal is to obtain the highest settlement possible, and we don’t want to rush you into a court battle if it puts your bottom line at risk.
When deciding to take your case to court, we always answer these critical questions first?
- What are we allowed to ask for?
- How are we going to ask for it?
- What is the likelihood of success?
- What issues does our case have and can those issues be overcome?
Going to trial can be a gamble
At KL, we tell our clients that a trial can be like a trip to Vegas—a gamble. We’ve all seen unexpected jury results, and we simply never know who we’re going to get in terms of the jurors. Florida cases are never a one-size-fits-all scenario because the disparity in wealth and backgrounds means juries will vary wildly in their opinions and decisions. That’s why we put a significant amount into understanding the demographic makeup of the county hosting each case. In our extensive experience, understanding those metrics ensures the best chances of success in court.
For instance, the jury pool is incredibly diverse in Palm Beach County, one of Florida’s biggest and most populated counties. So a hedge fund manager could be sitting next to a 19-year-old college student who lives in a one-bedroom apartment. Those two people value money in dramatically different ways, and it’s our job to communicate your case in a way that speaks to both of them.
In addition to the jury, your injury and accident type are significant factors in the outcome of the court trial. For example, a study by Rand Corporation across a decade of personal injury cases found that trial plaintiffs were most successful in automobile personal injury and business cases versus medical malpractice and product liability cases.
That’s why we look at hundreds of jury verdicts for your specific circumstance within your county to understand the trial value. Every case is fact- and venue-specific. We know if we put in the work and do our research, we can substantially increase your odds of winning the maximum settlement–either in-court or through a generous settlement offer.
Knowing how to balance an insurance offer
Unlike in criminal law, where the result is either guilty or not guilty, there is an entire spectrum of wins and losses in personal injury cases. Therefore, to achieve the highest settlement possible, we must first understand how the insurance carrier values your case. We then must ask ourselves, what are the chances that a jury will value your case more, what is the trial risk, and can we negotiate a higher offer?
At KL, we have extensive experience negotiating higher settlements and taking cases to court when needed. Sometimes the carriers won’t budge on an unfair offer, making our decision to go to court easier. For instance, we had a client with medical expenses of $50,000, but the insurance company refused to offer more than $25,000. We advised her to move forward with going to trial, and the jury awarded her $322,000.
However, we believe clients should consider settling outside of court in other situations, even if they didn’t get the exact number they hoped for. For example, in a recent auto accident case, we convinced an insurance company to increase their initial offer to $900,000. We advised the client to accept this offer, but she requested that we risk the case with a jury. In the end, she received $550,000—a huge win overall, but significantly less than the insurer had offered.
Why the disparity in the final ruling?
The jurors saw the woman’s age (80 years old) as a factor in how much money she needed to recover and live a whole life.
Mock trials gain valuable insights
When deciding whether to take a case to trial, we always dissect the details to identify what issues and concerns we need to overcome to achieve the maximum settlement. At KL, we conduct mock trials whenever necessary to guide us. Mock trials reveal problems we didn’t anticipate, and they help put potential verdict awards into perspective.
For instance, some clients expect to receive millions in a court verdict, but a small detail could significantly change how the jury values the case. For example, we had a client who suffered a severe accident that seemed to warrant a multimillion-dollar award. However, when we mock-tried the subject beforehand, the jurors had a massive issue with the victim: He had recently gone on a cruise with his wife, which made his injuries look less significant. The mock trial prepared us for the potential consequences of these preconceived notions, and we settled outside of court for $1.5 million.
Finding the right trial attorney
Jury-led settlements are always a risk because no one’s pain is ever as real as your own. It’s always a gamble to convince six strangers to see the magnitude of your injuries, especially when your pain may not be apparent from the outside. Our job as experienced trial lawyers is to tell your story compellingly, so a group of jurors from different backgrounds and lifestyles will award you the maximum settlement you deserve.
At KL, we never give you absolute guarantees because there simply are no guarantees in any court trial. Instead, we provide hypotheticals and the likelihood of success in various scenarios. The fees involved, jury demographics, insurance offers, and wide ranges between verdicts and judgments are all factors we discuss so you can make an informed decision.
As always, feel free to contact our team today for an honest opinion on your situation from our experienced, family-oriented law firm.