You sued your doctor.
For medical malpractice.
You claimed your doctor was careless and caused you harm.
Your doctor says "You're crazy. I did nothing wrong here!"
Then he says "If I did something wrong, so did you Mr. Ungrateful Patient!"
Then he argues "If I did something wrong, whatever I did, did NOT cause you harm!"
Then your doctor says "Ok, IF I did something wrong and it caused you harm, whatever injuries you have are not that bad!"
Then, your doctor says "I am never going to negotiate or settle this case with you. I'll see you at trial."
Which means you're going to go through the entire litigation process.
That process can take anywhere from two to three years from the start of your lawsuit till your trial is finished.
That does NOT include the likelihood of taking an appeal from your jury verdict.
If that happens, it could take another one to two years to resolve.
THE DANGERS OF PROCEEDING TO TRIAL
First, I'll talk about the dangers.
Then, I'll talk about the alternatives.
When you proceed to jury trial, you are hoping that six members of the community can find in your favor.
You're hoping that six strangers will decide that you are slightly more likely right than wrong that what you are claiming is true.
You are also hoping that the jury will see how severe and disabling your injuries are and give you a substantial amount of money as a form of compensation for all the harms, losses and damages you've incurred.
What's the danger associated with going to verdict?
The danger is that you have no idea what the jury is going to do.
Your lawyer has no idea what the jury will do.
That's the danger.
It's an unkown.
You can have the best case in the world and a jury may not believe you.
You can have the best witnesses testify on your behalf and the jury may not believe them.
You can lose your case, despite having great experts supporting your claim.
I once had a client argue with me for thirty minutes saying she didn't believe me when I told her that.
She said "There's no way they'll throw me out of court without a dime! It's impossible."
I was finally able to convince her that she was 100% wrong.
Even with the best evidence, the best witnesses the best testimony, you have NO IDEA what a jury will do.
Even if they do find in your favor, they could come back and decide you're only entitled to receive a small amount of money to compensate you. On the other hand, they could find that you should receive a significant amount of money to compensate you for your injuries.
It's an unknown.
You just don't know what's behind door #2...that unmarked door which could be a total dud or a pleasant surprise.
THE DEFENSE HAS THE SAME DANGER LURKING IN THE SHADOWS
When you go to trial, the defense also has no idea what the jury will do.
They could have a great defense and the jury may not believe them.
The jury might be angry with the doctors' actions and how it harmed you.
The jury might not like how the doctor responded to questsions during cross examination.
The defense has no idea if the jury will be vindictive and take out their anger on the doctor.
If the jury gives you money, the defense has no idea how much they will give you.
It could be a small amount.
It could be a very large amount.
It could be somewhere in between.
It's the danger of the unknown.
HOW DO LAWYERS MINIMIZE THE DANGERS?
They analyze the risk.
The risk of going to trial and taking a verdict compared to the alternative.
The risk of getting a large jury verdict and taking an appeal compared to the alternative.
Every action at trial involves risk.
The risk of offending the jury.
The risk of offending a witness.
The risk of coming off too confident.
The risk of being cocky.
The risk of being arrogant.
The risk of not remembering answers.
The risk of your anxiety interfering in giving truthful answers to questions.
The risk of not getting exhibits and records into evidence.
The risk of not having one of your key medical experts testify because of a procedural problem.
WHEN DOES THE RISK NOT MATTER?
When the defense says "Screw you. We're not negotiating. We're never going to settle this case!"
It that instance, it doesn't matter what the risks are.
You have no choice.
The jury will decide if you are slightly more likely right than wrong.
The jury will decide if your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
The jury will decide if your doctors' carelessness caused you harm.
If it did, the jury will then decide how much money you are to receive for all your damages.
When the defense refuses to negotiate, all those risks go out the window.
You now put your best case forward and hope the jury does the right thing.
You don't have any options to consider as you go to trial.
WHAT OPTIONS MIGHT BE AVAILABLE TO YOU OTHER THAN GOING TO VERDICT?
If the defense is willing to negotiate, that's an option.
If the defense offers a significant amount of money to settle, that's an option.
A settlement is a guaranteed amount of money offered to resolve your claim.
If the defense makes a serious and significant settlement offer, you will need to weigh the risk of accepting the offer compared to the risk of going to trial.
To get a jury verdict with an unknown outcome.
With an uncertain outcome.
The only option you'll have is to either enter into settlement negotiations or not.
Keep in mind that just because the defense has indicated a willingness to negotiate, does NOT mean you're going to settle your case.
It means they're willing to talk and likely make an offer.
Whether they offer an amount that your attorney thinks is appropriate for your particular case can only be evaluated on a case by case basis.
To learn more about jury verdicts, I invite you to watch the video series below...