One of the most common questions that comes up in any Illinois personal injury lawsuit is should I settle or go to trial?
This is of course a very sensible question. The answer to it really depends on the case, the facts, your goals and some other things.
For most cases, getting a settlement makes sense if you get a good offer. If we think your case is worth at most $300,000.00 at trial and you are being offered $275,000.00, settling and getting the cash now is most likely the sensible thing to do.
In other major cases, you may not be offered close to your best case scenario at trial, but the amount is still so much that not settling seems risky. We had a client on a case whose trial was delayed until late 2021 due to Covid. The case settled earlier this year for $1 million. It’s possible at trial the case could have been worth double that, but the client who is very ill wanted the sure thing and the money now.
We supported the decision of this client because it’s their life. Our job as lawyers is to lay out the best and worst case scenarios and help you make an educated decision as to what to do. The lawyer who was working hard on this case would have gladly gone to trial, but an attorney’s job is to do what is best for the client.
In other cases you might want to go to trial for a non-monetary reason. Perhaps you want their to be publicity to prevent something like what happened to you from happening to others such as in a sexual abuse or police misconduct case. Maybe telling your story in court is therapeutic which is something a settlement can’t give. In some cases you want to confront the person who harmed you. Again it comes down to what is personal to you and in YOUR best interests.
On the flip side, we’ve seen cases where we knew the client would never go to trial. It could be that they make a very bad witness and being on the stand would hurt them. It might be that they don’t want to have to confront the person that harmed them as it would have a negative psychological impact.
And sometimes the offer is not good enough and you have your dollar amount that if not met means you will be taking your chances in court. In one famous case from when I was a young lawyer, a violinist lost her leg when she was dragged by a train for 200 feet. Back then it was rare to get settlement offers in the eight figures and there were stories of her and her lawyer turning down offers in the high seven figures and low eight figures. The rumor was that she wanted $20 million, not a penny less. She didn’t get that offer, went to trial and the jury awarded her almost $30 million. Rolling the dice with trial clearly worked out for her.
My advice to you is to make sure you are given the best and worst case scenarios as well as the likely scenario. You might want $1 million, but if your best case scenario is $50,000.00 and you get offered that, going to trial is foolish.
Every case is different. Learning what is realistic for your case will help you make a smart decision.
As always, we are lawyers who will talk to anyone for free. Call us any time at 312-346-5320.