In a personal injury case, your lawyer will likely caution you about the first settlement offer that you receive from the other party. There are many different approaches that legal teams take when drafting up their clients' first settlement offers, and an experienced injury lawyer can give you some insight into what you might see and then guide you on how you should proceed. Here are three things that the first settlement offer may try to accomplish.
Make You Doubt The Validity Of Your Case
A first settlement offer may be designed to instill doubt in you about the merits of your case. You may receive this offer and be shocked at the financial terms in it — often to the point that you begin to question yourself. For example, if you were injured in a slip-and-fall incident and are requesting $100,000 in damages, you may receive a settlement offer for only $5,000 in damages. A settlement that gives you a severely low-ball offer could be a tactic. You may think that the number you're looking at is more realistic than the number you're requesting, and this may potentially cause you to stop pursuing legal action.
Encourage You To Settle Quickly
The first settlement offer doesn't always have to be overly low. Sometimes, the other party's legal team will draft up an offer with a reasonable financial figure. This strategy may be designed to encourage you to settle quickly to avoid a drawn-out legal process that perhaps casts prolonged negative light on the other party. You have to remember that the number you see isn't necessarily fair or realistic — rather, it may be a figure that the other side thinks you'd accept in exchange for wrapping up the suit quickly.
Make You Reveal What Number You'd Accept
Just as two sides will go back and forth during the purchase of a car or a house, the first settlement offer that you get from the other party will often be a negotiating tactic. Some lawyers believe that this offer can make you reveal what financial terms you'd accept. For example, if you're asking for $100,000 in damages, the settlement offer might come back as $40,000. This number could feel low to you, so you may respond by asking for $65,000. Right away, the other legal team has lowered your number by $35,000 through this tactic. It's important to remember not to get flustered about the first settlement offer that you get and to confer with your lawyer about how to best respond.