As Sarasota personal injury lawyers, we are often asked to estimate a case on the spot of what someone can expect in a settlement versus a trial. A quick answer would be that a settlement can be anywhere from several hundred dollars to millions, but that doesn’t help much. There are various factors at play in any case that have a profound effect on the result of someone’s case. Personal injury cases and their settlements are determined by the strength of the case, evidence that can be collected, precedence, and who the various players are involved. Opposing counsel will look at evidence in your case, your lawyer, and other circumstances before making an offer which is why you must take all of those factors into consideration.
The events leading to the injury and the injury itself are always the most relevant, naturally. Was there gross neglect? Was the situation entirely avoidable? What type of injury and was death involved? Florida’s laws, especially when it comes to something like malpractice, put a huge onus on the individual who was injured over the hospital or doctor. Auto accidents, less so. It doesn’t mean that you cannot win a personal injury case against a doctor or hospital, it just means that you must have a very strong case to see it in court.
This leads to discussion of evidence. In my earlier comparison it is easier to derive evidence of neglect in an auto accident because police have already been at the scene as subject matter experts and do a great deal of the evaluation for your case. From time to time, a personal injury attorney may have to track down auto accident injury evidence but usually they are cut and dry. In a medical malpractice case there is more work on your attorney’s part to even file for just compensation, but it is also true that in cases of medical malpractice or accidental death the settlements can be extremely high at their conclusion due to the level of public trust placed in physicians and hospitals.
Lastly, your lawyer does play a huge role in what you may get from a settlement. If you have a legal team that as a) gone to trial and won, b) has a great reputation for successful settlements, and c) is known for being dogged you will most likely see settlement offers come in sooner and your settlements higher than those of teams who only handle insurance negotiations.