April 17, 2015 • Personal Injury
When you have filed a personal injury case, the goal of your attorney should be to get you as much compensation as possible that your case justifies. On the other hand, the entire agenda of the defense and insurance company will be to give you as little as possible or nothing at all. Hence, we have two competing agendas in negotiating a personal injury case, and if you have ever seen the TV show Pawn Stars, it has a very similar scenario.
Dealing with a Pawnshop
Somebody goes into the pawnshop with an object that he wants to sell; however, he does not know the true value of what this object is worth. Hence, now, the person is trying to sell this object, and the pawnshop owner asks the person how much money he wants for it.
Whatever amount the person says, the pawnshop owner will have a kneejerk reaction and say that the object is worth much less, and will be prepared to give only a fraction of its true value (well, they have to fix it up, keep it on the shelf, and then attempt to make a profit off of it). If the person truly does not know what the value of the object is, he is at a severe disadvantage, since he cannot counterattack or even make a counter offer. But of course in the show Pawn Stars the expert they bring in benefits both parties.
Negotiating a Personal Injury Case is Similar
Same thing happens in a negotiation process when you are dealing with an insurance company or an experienced personal injury defense attorney, who is representing the person you have sued. When the defense asks you how much you are willing to accept as settlement, and you provide a figure, their kneejerk reaction will be that what you are asking if far too much and your case is worth much less. Now, if you do not know the true worth of your injuries, how will you be able to counterattack or make a counter offer?
What happens While Negotiating a Personal Injury Case?
During the course of negotiations, the facts of the case are discussed. The defense will try to put forth their best position, your lawyer will try to counterattack by exposing their weaknesses, and likewise the defense will do the same. If you cannot reach an agreement about the true value of your injuries, what happens then? Well, in the pawnshop, if you cannot reach an agreement on the value of your object, then you can simply get up and leave the premises which sometimes does occur.
Similarly, when both sides cannot reach the true value of your injuries and a negotiated settlement, the only option is to take your case to trial. You do not believe that what the defense is offering is inherently fair, and you think your case is worth significantly more. In such a situation, you have a problem going to trial and allowing a jury put a value on your case. This is similar to walking out of a pawnshop or calling a third party to intervene and putting a fair value on the object. You may not know what that fair value will turn out to be.
On top of this, it is harder to walk out of a trial than a pawn shop.