When deciding on whether to proceed with trial or accept the final settlement offer, you must objectively weigh what are the likely FACTS to come out at trial based on the case discovery, including documents produced, statements obtained, and witness depositions conducted. Are your good facts admissible under your state's Rules of Evidence? Are your witnesses credible and able to recall details about what they once knew? Can the bad and ugly facts be repudiated by your witnesses or documents, or on cross-examination by your attorney, or kept out of evidence as violating the Rules of Evidence? Trials are about facts. So, weigh ALL the facts - the good, the bad, and the ugly - when you weigh your chances at trial. Consider using an informal, low-cost focus group to get feedback on your case facts and issues, and how a jury may weigh those facts and decide the case at trial.
Check Out What Other Local Juries Have Done in Similar Cases
Every case is different like a fingerprint. And, so are juries. But, there are similar characteristics among cases such as type of accident, type of injuries, and level of economic damages. These similarities can be compared to other local cases in which the jury verdicts or settlements have been reported. Typically, there is at least one verdict and settlement reporting service for your particular jurisdiction. Ask your lawyer to obtain these other reported verdicts or settlements so a comparison may be made with your case to determine a likely range for a jury verdict in your case.
Putting it All Together and Making a Final Decision
Once you have analyzed the likely facts to come out at trial, along with expert opinions, and you have analyzed reported verdicts and settlements in cases similar to yours, you are able to now consider this key question - if your case was tried a 100 times to a local jury what are the likely verdicts. You may get a verdict for example of $100,000 10% of the time, but also a defense verdict of $0.00 20% of the time. You should be optimistic, but also realistic. And, how much are you a gambler? If you go to trial, and lose, will you be comfortable with your decision? And, if you have to pay courts costs and case expenses because of a defense verdict, are you comfortable with that outcome? While it is easy to go to trial when insurance companies offer unfair, low settlements, sometimes it is a tough call on whether to try the case or accept the settlement. Most of all, LISTEN to your attorney, and not a well-intentioned, but often clueless relative or friend on how to value your case.