Personal injury lawsuits don't always make it to court. Court costs and the costs of litigation can run high and many times, it's in the parties' best interests to settle as fast as they can. An overwhelming majority of cases settle out of court, as The New York Times has reported.
Settlement negotiations aren't easy. There are tricks to the trade.
Here are a few pointers in having successful settlement talks:
- Know what you want. You need to go into a settlement talk knowing exactly what you want out of the discussion. It helps you focus and steer the conversation in the right direction.
- Understand quid pro quo. You have to give some to get some. If you don't know what you have to give or what the other side has to gain or lose, how can you expect to be successful in negotiations?
- Know your options. Before going in to negotiation talks, it's important to know your options. Knowing your options and having an idea of what the alternatives are helps you get the best out of settlement talks.
- Listen. Sometimes, it's important to do less talking and more listening. This helps you determine the pace of the negotiation and what the other side is thinking. There will be times when you weren't aware of something -- and that something was critical to the case.
- Don't put all your cards on the table. It's important not to tell the other side what you want right away. You have more to lose by the other side knowing what you want too early. When they know what you want too fast, they also know what you have to lose.
- Be polite and respectful. You catch more bees with honey. While negotiations and lawsuits are adversarial in nature, settlement talks will go a lot smoother if they're done in a calm and orderly manner.
- Don't take the first offer you get. You don't have to. If you don't like the first offer, turn it down and let them know what you want.