May 18, 2015 • Personal Injury
Course of Trial is a Rollercoaster Ride
Let us say, you have filed an accident case or medical malpractice case, or even a wrongful death case, and your case has now gone all the way to trial. During the course of trial, during the cross-examinations of different witnesses, your emotions are going up and down like a roller coaster or a yo-yo.
This is happening every day of the trial. There are times you feel elated, you think you have done a marvelous job, and that you have a strong case that is all but bullet proof. Moreover, there are other times, when the defense attorney is scoring points and you feel that perhaps your case should not even have been filed. Based on these wild swings of momentum, is there an ideal time to begin settlement discussions with the defense during the course of the trial?
The answer is maybe. Why is that? If you are at a high point during the course of the trial, where your attorney is making all these terrific points, and it seems you are on the road to victory, then at this time you may not want to settle your case because now you believe that the value of your injuries are so much higher. You feel at this junction that you have a much greater chance of winning this case. On top of this, you feel the jury is going to award you a significant amount of money in terms of compensation.
But you should remember the tides can change quickly in the courtroom.
Slowly Deflating the Strength of Your Case
On the other hand, when the defense attorney is scoring small victories based upon destroying the credibility of your witnesses, then you can see your case slowing dying from all these small wounds. In such an instance, you may be contemplating that it is better to settle the case now because otherwise the jury might not give you anything. Well, this might be the ideal time for you to start negotiating, and this may be the opportunity for the defense attorney to recognize that you are being reasonable.
What is the Ideal Time to Begin Settlement Discussions?
However, things can change very quickly during the course of a trial as already mentioned. Knowing this, is there an ideal time to begin negotiations? Maybe, but each case is different. The dynamics are different, the attorneys are different, the facts are different, and you can only evaluate the situation at that time when you are the one who has their future on the line. Your attorney will have to make a snap decision whether to begin discussions and negotiations based upon what is going on during the course of the trial.
No worries, during the course of questioning witnesses, the court process will come to a stop and the attorneys will shake hands and start to talk about a settlement. This is not what happens. What will happen is that during a break, the attorneys may come together and initiate a discussion. Similarly, at lunch they may have another conversation.
Alternatively, before proceeding to the next witness, the lawyers might ask the judge for some guidance about holding some settlement discussions. Therefore, do not hope that the trial will take a break just out of the blue and the attorneys are going to hold a nice little meeting just because it is the ideal time to begin settlement discussions.