May 11, 2015 • Legal Terminology
Defense Wants to Negotiate
You have filed a personal injury case to claim damages for the harms and losses you have suffered because of your injuries. Now the defense wants to negotiate and they ask what the bottom line number is in this case. You and your lawyer, provide a bottom line number, but what happens if the defense comes with a much less or slightly less counteroffer?
It could be an accident, medical malpractice, or even a wrongful death case, the defense will want to start negotiating, and will ask you for your bottom line dollar amount. This means the least amount that you are willing to accept for compensation. However, after you tell the defense what your bottom line figure is, and they come back with an offer that is less than what you have asked, what options do you have?
What is Your Bottom Line Number?
For instance, suppose you tell the defense your bottom line number is $110,000, and they come back and say they are willing to offer you $95,000. What happens then? Your original demand might have been $200,000, but now you have told them your bottom line number is $110,000, and they are offering $15,000 less just to see your reaction or perhaps they do not have too much respect for your acuity.
Do you take it or not? Well, you have a number of doors you could possibly open at this point. When you have told them your bottom line number, it technically means you will not accept anything less than that amount. However, the defense is offering something that is only slightly less. There are victims, who stand on principle and say they are not willing to accept anything less that their bottom line number, and they will fight tooth and nail to get that number.
An Ostentatious Strategy
Asking for the lowest monetary denominator is in fact a strategy by the defense and insurance companies to try and low ball you every time. They ask for your bottom line number and then they will come with an offer than does not reach but approaches the number you have told them.
There are defense attorneys who are straightforward, and they will come back only if they have permission from the insurance company to pay you your lowest dollar figure. However, most defense attorneys will come back, offer a lesser amount, and say that it was the best they could do under the circumstances.
If the defense has made such a counteroffer, your lawyer is obligated to tell you this figure, and discuss the risks associated with turning down such a significant offer. One of the key risks is that is it worthwhile to fight over $15,000, and take the case to trial? It might be, but then again it might not. Additionally, there is also the chance of the jury ruling in favor of the defense, and you may end up with nothing after many months have passed and possibly a year’s worth of time.