Knowing exactly how extensive your injury accident damages are and, as a result, how much your injury case is “worth,” are important pieces of knowledge in any personal injury litigation, especially in California. California has a statute, Section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure, that is designed to promote the settlement of civil cases. It says that if the defense makes a settlement offer that meets all the statutory requirements listed in Section 998 (a qualifying “998 offer”), then there are some very important consequences you can face, depending on how you handle that offer and how your case resolves.
If your opponent makes a valid 998 offer that you decline, and the jury (or judge in a bench trial) awards you a sum of damages that is less than the settlement offer (or returns a defense verdict), then not only are you not eligible to recover the costs that you incurred after the date of the settlement offer, the defense can recover their costs that were racked up after the date of the offer. This difference can be quite a significant sum, and is just one more example of how your injury case can benefit from the knowledge and skill provided by an experienced California personal injury attorney.
A recent case from San Bernardino County (Superior Court Case Number CIVDS1505973) was an example of this process in action. The event that led to litigation was an intersection collision in the city of Upland. A city employee ran a red light and crashed into M.N. The employee was on the job at the time that the accident took place. The injured woman sued both the city and the man who hit her. The key dispute in this trial focused less upon whether or not the employee had caused the accident, and more around the extent of the injured woman’s damages.
The defense made the injured woman a valid 998 settlement offer of $150,000. M.N. did not accept the offer. At trial, the defense argued that the amount of M.N.’s harm that was caused by the accident was low. The defense pointed out that M.N. had suffered with neck, back and shoulder pain (which were the same problems that she asserted in this case) for nearly a decade. The defense also argued that the injured driver only experienced about 10-12 weeks of worsened pain. After that, her pain returned to the level it was before the accident.
The trial court was not entirely persuaded by the defense’s arguments. The court concluded that the damages that could be attributed to the accident were substantial, including a large amount of medical bills. The court returned a judgment in favor of M.N. and awarded her $178,000 in damages. That, obviously, was more than $150,000, so the injured woman was entitled to collect her costs, even those incurred after the date of the offer. This was no small sum, either, as the court awarded her a total of $35,000 in costs.
Every step along the path of your injury case can be the difference between important success and difficult (and perhaps costly) failure. For your personal injury litigation needs, reach out to the knowledgeable San Mateo personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping injured individuals pursue the compensation they need 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.
More Blog Posts:
Dealing With a California Injury Case When the Person Who Hit You Dies Shortly After the Accident, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 9, 2018
Your Legal Options if You are Hurt by a Self-Driving Vehicle in an Accident in California, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 6, 2018