In a successful personal injury suit, you are generally entitled to recover the full cost of your injuries from an accident over your lifetime: medical bills, lost income and reduced earning potential, and pain and suffering for starters. But in many cases, plaintiffs will find that their full recovery might be reduced in a personal injury settlement. Below are some of the most common factors that can result in a reduction in a personal injury settlement.
Potential Fault on the Part of the Plaintiff
It is not at all uncommon for there to be multiple parties who played some part in causing a plaintiff’s injuries, and oftentimes this includes the plaintiff. For example, if a plaintiff jaywalker was hit by a negligent driver, then the defendant might argue that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent by failing to follow pedestrian laws. Fault on the part of the plaintiff – contrary to popular opinion – does not mean that the plaintiff cannot pursue a claim (at least in California and many other states) but rather that the plaintiff’s potential verdict could be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to him or her.
Likelihood of Proving Fault at Trial
In some cases, proving negligence is an open-and-shut matter, but, in other cases, proving whether the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injuries can be more complicated. Most cases that actually go to trial will ultimately be decided by a jury (unless they are dismissed on decided on summary judgment), and juries by their nature can be difficult to predict. A defendant will usually try to lower your settlement to account for the fact that going to trial could end in you getting nothing.
Ambiguous or Difficult-to-Verify Damages
Aside from actually proving a negligence or other personal injury claim, proving your total damages in a compelling manner often depends on numerous factors, like medical and technical experts as well as the fickle nature of a judge and jury in deciding how much you should receive. Again, negotiating a settlement often involves adjusting your recovery to account for these unpredictable factors.
Desire to Avoid Trial
Few parties, whether they be plaintiffs or defendants, inherently want to go trial as it takes time and money and you are subject to unpredictable outcomes. A plaintiff who desperately does not want to go to trial may have to settle for a smaller settlement if the defendant knows this and can use it as leverage. Likewise, a defendant may have its own reasons for avoiding trial and might offer a higher settlement to do so.
Poor or Inexperienced Legal Representation
Lastly, it is simply a fact that going with an attorney who either cannot or will not negotiate the maximum settlement available to you can lower the recovery you will receive. Some attorneys simply try to negotiate quick settlements, no matter how low, to avoid having to put the work into your case, whereas others lack the experience and skills to go up against large defendants, their insurers, and their attorneys (all of whom are in the business of minimizing your recovery) and do what needs to be done to get the recovery you deserve under the law.
Speak With an Experienced Pasadena Personal Injury Attorney Today
With over 30 years experience litigating cases to successful settlements and verdicts, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz in Pasadena know how to put forward your best case for full recovery. Our legal team represents injured victims and their families across Los Angeles. To schedule a free consultation with a Pasadena personal injury lawyer, contact us today.