Negotiation: What to Consider Before you Settle
Discuss your options with a Tampa Civil lawyer before you settle!
In almost every civil case, you will go through a process of negotiation with the other side, where you attempt to reach an agreement without the uncertainty of a trial. Though there are different considerations in different types of cases – for example, a legal malpractice case will look very different from an accident case – there are basic questions to consider in most types of cases. Your attorney will help you evaluate your potential claim in each area.
First, you should assess the amount of your actual damage. If you were injured in an accident, this could be the amount of the hospital bills and any unpaid days off work. In a legal malpractice case, this is the amount of money you actually lost because of an attorney’s negligence. This category of damage deals in known numbers and is, in many cases, comparatively easier to calculate.
Next, consider other, less obvious, categories of compensation, such as pain and suffering or opportunity cost. Are you still suffering physically or mentally because of your accident? What will your future care cost? Did the attorney’s actions make it so that you lost out on a business deal you would otherwise have benefited from? How much profit might you have made if you’d been able to participate? How much did others who did participate make? This category of damage deals a lot in educated guesswork and trying to predict the future, so it’s much harder to calculate.
Finally, consider potential punitive (punishment) awards. Was the behavior of the defendant particularly outrageous? Might the court or the jury want to make an example of the defendant by awarding you more money than you really need to cover your losses? This category of award is very difficult to predict, but your attorney will be able to tell you whether there is any chance of this sort of award.
Once you have considered all possible damage claims, consider the strength of your evidence for each one. Your attorney will help you calculate the odds that you will prevail at trial in each category, and will counsel you on what sort of settlement you may want to consider. Remember that the uncertainty of a trial does not allow guaranteed results, so once you’ve calculated your possible damages, keep your expectations realistic. It is sometimes better to settle for your actual damages than to go to trial, where the other side will try to convince the jury to award less than you need or to find that the defendant is not liable altogether — in which case you would not recover anything.
If you are in need of a legal malpractice, personal injury, medical malpractice, accident, or whistleblower lawyer in Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay attorneys of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore would be pleased to speak with you. We fight aggressively to protect the rights of our clients. Click here or call us today at (813) 225-4000 to schedule a free consultation.