When a client is offered a settlement, depending on the client’s position in life at the time, as well as whether the client has other income from other endeavors, it is always a heart wrenching decision as to whether to give in and accept what is always a partial payment or to go to the mats and sue the bastards. The client will look to the lawyer for information, advice, and basically the answer to what should I do? The lawyer’s job is not to tell the client what to do but to render an opinion and give advice so the client is fully informed and can make the most reasonable, intelligent, and fully informed decision possible. There is no perfect system to any of this. Typically any settlement offer it is not usually based much in reality but is rather some ethereal equation by the entity making the payment as to what it believes the clients claims are valued at at the present time. The valuation of a client’s claim can fluctuate throughout the life of the claim. For instance, if the client were to reject initial settlement offers, file a lawsuit, and begin to litigate, the case will then take on a life of its own and the claims value will rise and fall with how the evidence unfolds during the litigation process, particularly through discovery including depositions and document requests. It is always a crapshoot as to whether or not the client should have taken the initial settlement offer before filing suit, because any offer can go down as easily as it can go up and therefore if a client winds up accepting a settlement that is the same or less than what was originally offered, especially after time, effort, energy and money have been expended, the client can walk away from the situation with a horrible taste in his or her mouth.
So the question of whether to settle, for how much, and when, are questions that are not easily answered, and with hindsight being 20/20 when and whether to settle is not anywhere near an exact science. What the client has to understand is that there is so much that is not known through the course of a claim, or pursuit of that claim, so basically what you’re left with is take your best shot, make a decision, and live with it. It’s never perfect, and everything in life, and the best way to approach a settlement, especially after the money is spent, is to not look back and move forward with your life.