8 steps for optimizing the settlement value of your mental injury case
Some mental injury cases can be settled instead of having to go through a courtroom trial. Preparing a case for optimum settlement value is an important way in which a plaintiff’s mental injury trial lawyer can help you with your case. A diligent and experienced plaintiff’s attorney will consider some or all of the following steps to optimize the value of the injury settlement in your mental trauma case:
- Step One: Do not attempt to settle prematurely. However, do consider going for an early settlement if the case involves severe abuse and defendant has enough money to settle the case without turning to defendant’s insurance company.
- Step Two: Your attorney should confirm your description of the facts by performing a thorough investigation of the case, interviewing the witnesses, inspecting the evidence you possess and obtaining further information and evidence from the defendant and other sources.
- Step Three: When the time is right, which is usually after your deposition and the defendant’s deposition have been taken, your attorney should encourage the defense lawyer to agree to submit the case to a mediation.
- Step Four: Prior to the mediation, your attorney can have your own psychological expert write a report after obtaining the defense lawyer’s agreement that the report will be part of the mediation process only and thus confidential. That way, if the case does not settle, this report cannot be used to impeach your psychological expert’s testimony at trial.
- Step Five: Your lawyer should write a detailed mediation brief laying out all the facts and law that supports your case, anticipating the defense arguments, and explaining why your presentation of the case will carry the day at trial and why the defense presentation will not be successful.
- Step Six: Your attorney should provide the defendant’s attorney with a copy of the mediation brief before the date of mediation so that defendant corporation or insurance company will have the brief when their committees and decision makers evaluate the case for settlement.
- Step Seven: In the brief and at the mediation, your attorney should make it clear that the defense will not be able to control its risks in the case. The defendant’s lawyer and any insurance adjuster will need to understand that (1) it can be very risky for defendant to make a low ball evaluation of a psychological injury case, reject a reasonable settlement, incur the expense of a trial and then have the jury return a large verdict and punitive damages, and (2) to avoid such a risk, defendant should make a fair and reasonable evaluation and settle the case for that fair and reasonable amount.
- Step Eight: Your attorney should make sure that either the mediation brief or the report of your psychological expert conveys, in a way that the defense can understand, a logical and thorough psychodynamic mechanism of your mental and emotional injury. Achieving a reasonable settlement is far more likely if the defendant and its lawyer understand how it was the acts or omissions of the defendant that caused your injuries.