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Mr. Barlow is the Author of "The Ultimate Guide to Accident Injury Cases in Hawaii." Available at:
Worked for the
United States Air Force
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What's a Fair Settlement Amount for a Hawaii Injury Case?
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This is one of the most common questions we're asked as injury lawyers. It's understandable that our clients would like to know what a fair settlement amount is. Unfortunately, the answer isn't simple. First of all, the word "fair" is subjective. After doing this for over ten years, we've found that all of our client's have a different definition of "fair". Some clients think that small settlement offers are fair, while others think that much larger settlement offers are not fair. After all, how does one put a price on their pain? As injury lawyers, what we think is fair, may not be considered fair by our client.
In our professional opinion, asking what amount is fair is the wrong question to ask. It's not a helpful question to ask because the answer doesn't help one decide whether to settle a case or not. The helpful question to ask is this: Considering the settlement offer that the insurance adjustor has made, should I accept their offer or take them to court. That's the real question that needs to be answered. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether your lawyer thinks a settlement offer is fair or not. He's not the one who gets to decide whether to accept the offer. Only the client can make the ultimate decision whether to take a settlement offer or go to court.
When it comes to deciding whether to take the case to court or not, this is where you want to get as much advice from your injury lawyer as you can. He's the one who has been to court many times. He's the one who has an idea how things may go with a jury. Your lawyer can explain to you the risks and benefits of going to trial. There are many risks of going to trial. There's the expenses of trial, such as the $315 complaint filing fee, deposition expenses, records expenses, ect. There's also the stress of going to trial. It takes a couple of years to go to trial. The defense attorney will want to take your deposition which will take 2-8 hours. This can be very stressful. The arbitration and trial itself can be time consuming and stressful.
One of the biggest risks of going to trial is not knowing what a jury will decide. Juries can be very unpredictable. In general, most jurors haven't been injured in car accidents, so they will probably not be very sympathetic. Most jurors pay for car insurance and naturally think that their rates are high because of injury cases. So, it can be very risky to take an injury case in front of a jury.
A risk of going to trial is that you could lose. Again, this comes down to the unpredictable jury. If you do lose, than the judge may order you to pay for the defense attorneys fees and costs. This can be very expensive.
When making the important decision whether to accept a settlement offer or not, you need to consider whether you think a jury will award you much more than what the adjustor is offering you. You don't want to go through the time and expense of trial if you think the jury will award you the same or a little more than what the adjustor is offering. If you think that the adjustor is being somewhat reasonable, than it doesn't make sense to go to trial just to try for a little more.
Our client's who have the easiest decisions to make is when the insurance adjustor offers a ridiculously low amount. This is the only time when it's somewhat easy to decide to go to court. Otherwise, if the car insurance company is offering you an amount that is anywhere near reasonable, than you should think long and hard about accepting it before you make the decision to trust your case in the hands of a jury.