The Hidden Costs of Slower Personal Injury Settlements
When deciding whether to encourage a personal injury client to settle their case or proceed to trial, it can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons of both options. Your client, ultimately, should make the final call, but your opinions and advice will be vital to your client’s decision. Most legal clients will not hesitate to follow their lawyer’s advice if the outcome seems practical and offers a sense of closure.
There are three factors that need to be weighed the heaviest when deciding whether to settle or move to trial. Those include time factor, cost factor, and the likelihood of the case’s outcome. One thing your client may not realize is that all three factors can influence each other considerably. Longer cases and settlements, for example, may return a more favorable settlement award, but they also often include a great deal of hidden costs.
What costs are those, exactly? Here are some of the hidden associated costs of slower personal injury settlements:
Deposition Costs – Many personal injury clients are not aware of the costs that are included for recording plaintiff depositions. Make sure to explain these before deciding how to proceed.
Costs of Hiring Expert Testimony – If your client’s case goes to trial, you’ll likely need to hire professionals who are qualified to give expert testimony. Not just any testimony qualifies. Depending on what type of expertise the case requires, this could be a considerable cost.
Investigation Costs – By proceeding to trial, you’ll need to fully investigate the claim, of course, and that requires hiring professional investigators and locating irrefutable evidence. Often this includes hiring a private investigator, accident recreation experts, or a financial/contractual investigator.
Proving your client’s claim may also require the assistance of multiple medical experts as well as technology experts who can provide discovery services if deemed necessary. Depending on the level of investigation required, the costs for this step can be substantial.
Costs of Right Protection – If your client’s claim doesn’t settle during the early negotiations, you may have to proceed with the lawsuit to buy your client extra time. There are extra costs associated with this step since it becomes necessary to file the claim with the court as well as protect your client’s rights. You may also have to pay for separate court proceedings before the actual trial.
In addition to extra costs, taking a claim to trial requires a great deal of extra time. This fact alone may make a longer settlement undesirable to a client who needs help paying for immediate medical bills, for instance. When deciding how to proceed with a client’s case, be honest and upfront about their options and the associated cost factors. One of the worst things you can do is to withhold information and persuade your client to take a direction they will later regret.