Deciding Whether to Settle or to Go to Trial: Why That Decision Matters So Much in Your California Injury Case

Sometimes, in your auto accident injury case, the question isn’t if you have a case for holding the defendant liable, because the defense has already admitted liability. The question isn’t even whether or not you’ve incurred a substantial amount of damages, because the defense has admitted that, too. The question, then, for some injured people, is “exactly how extensive are my damages and how much compensation should I reasonably expect for them?” Being able to assess these things accurately matters a great deal if you’re in an injury lawsuit in California.

In California, there’s a law that says that, if you reject a statutory settlement offer and the jury awards you less 75% of what was offered, then you lose the ability to recover certain costs and fees and may be on the hook for paying some of the defense’s costs and fees. In other words, it is very, very important, when you receive a statutory settlement offer from the defense, that you have the ability to differentiate a fair offer from a low one. This is a key area where the right San Mateo car accident attorney can help. Your knowledgeable attorney can use his/her wealth of experiences in past cases to help you spot a fair offer… or an unfair one.

T.B. was a woman facing those kinds of questions in her case (Orange County Superior Court Case No. 30-2016-00861733-CU-PA-CJC.) She was a passenger in vehicle that was involved in a major accident. T.B.’s driver reportedly improperly turned left against a red arrow. The accident totaled both vehicles.

T.B. was ultimately diagnosed with a serious back injury. That injury required her to undergo artificial disc replacement surgery at two levels in her cervical spine. She also asserted that the accident caused her many more problems, including additional back damage that would require more back surgery in the next few years, a complete shoulder replacement surgery within the next decade, a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and instability in her walk. These injuries, she alleged, would require her to have in-home care for the rest of her life.

In her case, the woman sued the auto manufacturer that employed her driver. The auto company admitted that its employee was liable for the accident and admitted that the accident had caused a serious back injury. The defense acknowledged that the first surgery was medically necessary. The rest of T.B.’s assertions, however, the defense rejected.

Based on the damages that it argued were legitimate, the defense made a statutory settlement offer of just above $500,000. T.B.’s legal team made a settlement offer of just less than $1.5 million. The key for T.B. was determining whether $500,000 was enough, or was too little.

The injured woman rejected the offer, and rightly so. The jury concluded that T.B.’s future pain and suffering damages amount alone was $1.5 million. In addition, the jury also awarded $400,000 in past pain and suffering, along with $182,000 in future medical expenses, for a total award of $2.082 million.

When you receive a statutory settlement offer from the other side, you may not know what to do. One of the keys to success is to be sure you have someone on your side who does know what to do when it comes settling or rejecting a settlement offer. The experienced San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos have that kind of knowledge and have been offering that kind of reliable and effective representation to our auto injury clients for many years. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.