Out of Court Settlements, Do I Have to Take a Settlement If It is Offered?

If you are offered a settlement by the defendant in a lawsuit, you are not required to take the offer. You have several options and this litigation guide will outline them for you.

In this Litigation Guide article we will discuss what out of court settlements are and what your next steps are if you are offered one.

Settling Civil Litigation Out of Court

Most civil lawsuits are settled out of court, but there is no law that says you have to accept a settlement offer from the defendant. You’ve always got the option to have your lawsuit heard and decided in court. That is your legal right.

Litigation attorneys will often advise their clients to reject a first settlement offer. These offers are usually well below what the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company is willing to pay. It’s their way of opening negotiations and trying to get out of the lawsuit for as little as possible.

If you and your attorney have a clear dollar amount in mind, you can tell the defendant what it is and make it clear that it is firm. Give them the option to take it or go to court. Some litigation lawyers will prefer to give the defendant a figure higher than you are willing to accept and then work their way down to a settlement agreement both sides are content with. Litigation attorneys each have their own preferred strategy.

Going to Court to Pursue Civil Litigation Damages

The rewards and the risks are greater in pushing the case to court. But this is always your right, as we noted. If you lose the case in court, you won’t get a dime. If you win, the amount of the award might be much higher than any of the settlement offers made by the defendant.

But keep this in mind. If you go to court and win, your litigation attorney fees will also be higher. Under most agreements, the litigation lawyers get one-third of the settlement or judgment plus their fees. So, while you might get twice as much by going to court, your attorney fees might be twice as high too. Court cases are very expensive because they are time consuming for attorneys and their staff.

Which strategy is right for you?  Experienced litigation attorneys will give you sound advice based on the merits of your case, the attitude of the defendant or their insurance company and even the judge presiding over your case. Take the time to interview potential litigation attorneys and find one whose input and advice you can trust in making the decision to accept an out of court settlement or go to court.