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When Is Out Of Court Settlement A Good Idea?

In the most conventional legal situations, a person would undertake a lawsuit against another person, or a group or organization, when the plaintiff feels that financial compensation is owed, but the other party disagrees and refuses to provide the compensation. The lawsuit, decided by a jury, and supervised by a judge, ensures that a decision of liability—if one is reached—is now on record and legally enforceable, meaning that a defendant now faces increasingly stiffer legal repercussions for ignoring the court order.

However, it’s not unusual for a disagreement about financial compensation to not go all the way to court. In some cases, the amounts may be negotiated and agreed upon without the need for a judge and jury, and this is known as an out of court settlement. Other times, however, an out of court settlement may be the last thing that a lawyer advises you to take, and you are strongly urged to go to trial.

So when does a settlement make sense, and when is it a bad idea?

Is The Amount Fair?

The chief reason a lawyer would advise you against agreeing to an out of court settlement is that the amount that is being offered is not sufficient compensation for what you are owed. A common tactic for some businesses or insurance companies that find themselves potentially liable is to try to overwhelm a victim with a “quick attack,” presenting a low amount, and putting rapid, constant pressure on the victim to agree to the settlement, as well as sign additional documents that agree to rescind all future rights to lawsuits.

It is never a good idea to agree to an initial settlement offer without first at least running it by an experienced attorney. You may not know—or have considered—the possibility that your injury may leave you unable to work at your chosen occupation for the rest of your life. So what seems like a lot of money now, say, an offer that would take care of you financially for a few months would quickly prove inadequate once you realize you can’t return to your previous income level, and either have to go job hunting or apply for disability insurance.

Will The Case Take Too Long?

On the other end of the spectrum, you may find yourself in an accident, with injuries, that is widely publicized. The media is on your side, and the evidence, even without a trial, is public, and overwhelmingly on your side, and the parties involved know that are in a bad spot, both legally and from a public relations perspective.

In a case like this, especially with media scrutiny, you are much more likely to get a fair deal in terms of compensation. If you talk to a lawyer under these circumstances, you may find that with the other party wanting this to be settled quickly, with no explosive media coverage, getting a settlement in court may take far longer than is necessary, since the other party is willing to negotiate, fairly, on owed compensation.

When in doubt, always get the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney to assess your case.

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

When Is Out Of Court Settlement A Good Idea?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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