Many individuals associate lawsuits with drama-filled courtroom scenes. However, the reality is that very few lawsuits actually end up in court. Instead, the vast majority are settled long before a trial date is even set.
Knowing that your lawsuit is likely going to be settled, you should know some tips for negotiating a favorable settlement.
As with any negotiation, the better-prepared party typically ends up with the better end of the deal. Here are some suggestions to help you get there:
- Know your goal. You should take stock in the amount of harm you have suffered, both monetarily and otherwise. You should then set separate targets for what you hope to achieve in settlement talks. You can devise a best-case scenario, a likely scenario, and a bottom-line for what is acceptable.
- Keep an open mind. Settlement negotiations have been known to take strange turns. If your best or second-best option is not available, keep an open mind to alternative solutions that can also help you attain your goal.
- Step into the other party's shoes. If you understand your opponent's concerns and what she stands to lose in the lawsuit, you can develop a better strategy for your own negotiations.
- Keep your ears open. The loudest party at the settlement table is rarely the most successful party. Listen to the other side's case and pay attention to any weaknesses. This can help you determine the direction of the negotiation.
- Don't be rash. Rarely should you ever take the first offer you get. Even if the settlement is for more money than you've ever seen in your life, remember that the first offer is rarely ever the best offer you can get.
- Don't expose your game plan too early. Just as you shouldn't rush to accept the first offer, you should not rush to expose all of your arguments and leverage. Learn to see what the other side has to offer and lose, before exposing your strategy.
- Be respectful. The only way negotiations will be successful is if the parties work together and find a solution. Settlement negotiations should not be adversarial.
These are just a few ways to work toward a favorable settlement. Of course you'll want to check with your personal injury lawyer for more advice on how to handle your specific situation.