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Have You Ever Told Your Client To Take An Offer For Less Than You Thought A Jury Would Award?

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A few years ago I represented a lady – a firefighter – whose lawsuit was coming up for trial. She was disabled by the accident; she required three surgeries on her cervical spine – her neck – and at 35, would never be able to make the money she had made before.

We went to a settlement conference. The best we could get the insurance companies to offer was $300,000.00.

She was disappointed – she wanted $400,000.00, and I had evaluated the case for settlement at that amount. I was tempted to tell her to turn it down, and go to trial.

But there were two problems. First, there was a real chance that the jury would give her much less than $100,000 – the impact was minor, and my client and her husband had fixed the car themselves and hadn’t taken any good pictures of the car’s damage.

The second problem was that the Ohio Supreme Court had just heard arguments in an appeal that involved the same issue in our case. If the Supreme Court granted the appeal, there would be no insurance coverage for my client’s damages. We did not think this would happen.

Joe – a younger lawyer who had brought the client to me– said “Take the money. You can’t not take the money if there’s a chance she could get nothing.”

We took the money.

The day the check arrived, the Ohio Supreme Court granted the appeal. If we had not taken the offer, my client would have received nothing.

And taking it – obviously – made a difference in her life.

That case changed the way I approach trials and settlements. Any good lawyer estimates what a jury will award if we try the case.(It’s hardly an exact science.)

But I also think about what the settlement will mean to my client, and the difference between settling the case, getting the projected amount, and not getting anything.

And while most cases settle, I’ve walked away from my share of bad offers in mediations and settlement conferences – after discussing it at length with my client, and with at my client’s request. Almost every time I did, my client wound up getting what they wanted.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Nobody knows what a jury will do. If you want to know what can happen in your lawsuit, speak with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Attorney – call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.

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