First, the GAL cannot settle the case on your behalf. It is something to consider however if both your attorneys and the Judge are recommending you settle for the low policy limits. Perhaps the defendant has no assets to actually collect on a judgmen you may receive? Maybe there are liability issues that make pursuing this to trial risky? You can try to find a personal injury attorney to fight this for you but it sounds like you are very close to a trial date. Seek a second opinion (or two). I have also added Personal Injury to your tags for more answers. Good luck.
I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.
There is no point to having a jury trial in a case if there is no money to be obtained after trial. The insurance company's obligation to pay a judgment will be limited to the amount of the policy limits in any event. Your attorney should have, and probably has, investigated the assets and earnings potential of the defendant. The insurance company is required to defend the case through trial unless it can offer all of its insurance policy benefits to settle prior to trial. In such cases, it is often a very good idea to settle for policy limits, even though your injuries are much greater because nothing can be obtained by going to trial. If the defendant has no assets, you will only get the policy limits anyway. The fact that the MSC judge has a strong opinion about the appropriateness of settlement suggests that your attorney has done his or her homework, and is probably giving reasonable advice. If you do not trust your attorney's opinion, you should get a second opinion
In all cases it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney. Nothing stated herein is intended as legal advice for your specific situation, and you should use the information provided solely for the purpose of choosing an experienced attorney for the problems presented.
You have valid concerns; however, it is important to understand the the value of a case is a different concept that what can be practically collected on a case. If the Defendant has no assets, many attorneys will recommend a settlement for the policy limits. You can ask the attorney if an asset search was performed. Furthermore, you can discuss with the attorney the collectibility of a large judgment or verdict. Your attorney may be giving you solid advice. You can get a second opinion from another attorney assuming that your attorney has given you the relevant documents and information so that you can make an informed decision on this matter. Good luck.
If the deft has no assets, all you do by going to trial is put yourself and spouse through a stressful situation, and incur costs that will likely eat up whatever ins there is. Even if you get a million dollar judgment, it is only a piece of paper. It does not turn in to cash automatically. I have judgments over millions of dollars, that have been uncollectable. You have to start thinking practically which I know is difficult due to the emotions surrounding the serious injuries. Obviously I dont know about the details of your case. I only give this info in general, assuming that there are no collectible assets from the deft. I also assume there are no addl defts, or liable parties, and no underinsured motorist coverage available to you. If there are assets, more liable parties, addl ins, , the analysis changes.
It will be difficult for you to switch attys right before trial. You can consult with others and provide the details so they can give specific answers.
Ask your attorney if he/she has done an asset search to confirm the possibility of collecting a judgement in excess of the insurance policy limits. If there are sufficient assets to pursue which are not subject to protection from judgement in bankruptcy, then it makes sense to spend thousands of additional dollars and get a judgement. If, on the other hand, there are no assets or small assets which can be protected by bankruptcy, then you could be spending money to put on a trial that would otherwise used for the benefit of your injured wife. Also, I assume that there is no underinsured motorist coverage which would also afford your wife further benefits; however, if there is, then you must first exhaust the defendant's insurance policy before you are able to pursue an underinsured motorist claim.
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.