Every case will run its own course. Small injury cases have a better chance of settling without litigation. Catastrophic injury cases almost never settle without litigation, unless the case is worth more than the defendant's available insurance limits.
Timing of settlement is controlled exclusively by the insurance company as they hold the key to the insurance policy purse strings. No one – not your lawyer, their lawyer or the court – can force the insurance company to make an offer before they are ready to.
Insurance companies profit by holding onto money as long as they can, so that they can invest it. Generally speaking, if an insurance company is willing to discuss settlement early in litigation, they are only going to be willing to resolve the case if they get a discount off of the settlement value of the case.
On catastrophic injury cases, insurance companies generally will not be willing to settle until they have had an opportunity to take the depositions of the Plaintiff's expert witnesses. That means that serious settlement discussions often do not occur until close to the time of trial.
Cases can be settled at any time, even after trial has started. It is simply a question of when the parties reach a point in the process that they are comfortable having serious discussions about settlement.
Why a Case Might Take Time to Settle
The more complex the case is and the more issues that are disputed, the greater the likelihood that serious settlement discussions will not occur until downstream in the litigation process. Often in complex cases there are disputed issues regarding one or more of the following:
- Factual and/or legal issues regarding liability
- Issues regarding apportionment of liability among the defendants.
- Issues regarding the nature and extent of the Plaintiff's injuries.
- Issues regarding whether the Plaintiff's injuries were caused by the accident.
- Issues about the value of Plaintiff's past and future medical expenses.
- Issues about the value of Plaintiff's past and future loss of earnings or earnings capacity.
- And of course the most significant issue – the reasonable value of Plaintiff's human damages – pain and suffering.
Many times in serious injury cases, and sometimes even in smaller value cases, the insurance company will want to attend a mediation before engaging in serious settlement discussions. Sometimes catastrophic injury cases require 2 or even 3 mediations before the case is resolved.
In every case there is an optimal time to have serious settlement discussions, but there is no rule as to when that will be. As an injured Plaintiff you need to carefully select an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling cases similar to yours, and then trust their instincts about when is the best time to have serious settlement discussions.
At the end of the day, the lawyer's job is to get you the best settlement options possible. It is always your decision whether or not to settle; your lawyer will help you make a good business decision about settlement by spelling out the pros and cons of settlement versus further litigation.
Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have sustained a serious injury, the Biren Law Group is here to help you understand your legal options. We understand the emotional and financial impact of a devastating accident and know how to best handle your case to obtain justice through maximum compensation.
Call us today at (310) 896-4345 for a free consultation.