Monday I was scheduled to try a Seneca County NY motorcycle accident case in the Seneca County Courthouse in Waterloo. But as often happens, the case settled on the eve of trial, in this case Sunday afternoon.
Why do personal injury cases settle so late in the game, after the attorneys have put so much work into preparing for trial"? In one word, "pressure". The pressure of an upcoming trial transforms the psychology of the parties and the lawyers. The weaknesses of your own case suddenly come into focus as never before. The risks of trial loom larger. This happens on both sides. When the parties' positions are not far apart to begin with, splitting the difference suddenly seems more palatable.
Trying cases is exciting, fun and, yes, frightening, especially for the client who usually has never been to court. The cases that get tried are the ones where the parties are miles apart. Where the positions are "within firing range" of each other, the pressures of trial often lead to a settlement on the courthouse steps.
My client was happy, and relieved, with the settlement. The amount we got was almost exactly what the lawyers in my firm had predicted an average jury would give us.
One of my partners always says, "hey, you can't lose a settled case". When I told that to my client, he laughed and said, "amen".
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