How do you know if an offer is reasonable?

Many clients ‘under settle’ due to poor advice, lack of investigation or defective claim preparation. If you have not been fully compensated for a claim, you can even potentially claim for professional negligence against the lawyer who advised you to ‘under settle’.

However, whether an offer is reasonable depends on many factors, notably your own subjective opinion of what you feel to be adequate compensation for your injuries or loss.
Only you have the authority to accept or reject an offer. Your personal injury attorney at Henry Shields can advise you as to the benefits or risks of your decisions, but ultimately the final decision lies with you.

The value of any settlement is best determined by predicting how a court would decide your claim. It is, therefore, important to analyse with your personal injury attorney what facts and legal standards would need to be considered in a trial. In South Africa, victims of accidents are legally entitled to claim for certain damages (of which you will be advised).

It is, hence, a question of proving these damages, and their direct relation to someone else’s negligence or an accident, to an extent that they couldn’t be denied in court. The amount of evidence that you can offer then sets the standard by which you can measure the value of your claim in order to determine whether an offer is reasonable.

You should ask yourself two main questions –

  1. Does the settlement offer consider all of the types of damages for which I may be entitled?
  2. Do I have concrete evidence for each of these claims?

The answers to these questions will help you to calculate what you could realistically receive on your best day and worst day in court. Then you can decide what outcome would be more probable and what would be a reasonable offer, taking into consideration the potential risks of a trial and litigation costs.

While settlements are usually viewed positively, a settlement does imply that you are willing to accept something less than the absolute ideal, as a compromise to avoid the stress, time and costs of litigation.

Settling for R100,000 now may be equal to, or even worth more than, a verdict for a greater amount in a year’s time. As, while you may get R150,000 if you go to court, the amount of fees and general costs may offset the net amount you ultimately receive. You should also be aware that, after filing your case in court, litigation can be a lengthy process in South Africa, and you may be required to expend a lot of time attending a deposition, a medical exam and a trial.

But don’t worry, an experienced member of the team at Henry Shields Attorneys will guide you through your options, and help you to weigh up the pros and cons of rejecting or accepting a settlement offer, so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

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