Should I accept the settlement offered? 30 Answers as of June 19, 2013

I filed a case against our neighbor as his dog bit my son. Our neighbor approached us several days ago and told me that they are willing to work out an out of court settlement. Should I accept this? My lawyer says yes but I feel that we deserve more.

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Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
You have to remember that this is a two-part analysis. The first part is "what are my damages" - that includes medical bills, permanent disfigurement, pain and suffering, etc. But the second part is "what is my portion of fault". The jury gets to assess the relative negligence of the parties. The jury could determine that the dog owner is 50% at fault and that your son (or even you) are 50% at fault. The jury could decide 10%/90% or 90%/10% or anything in between. So if your damages are valued around $10,000 but a jury returned 50% negligence against you/your son, then the dog owner only has to pay you $5,000. Obviously I and the attorneys on this list cannot tell you what your case is worth since we don't know all the facts, but I can tell you that many clients focus on the "damages part" and forget the "what is my negligence" part.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 3/5/2012
Richard E. Lewis, P.S.
Richard E. Lewis, P.S. | Richard Eugene Lewis
The settlement should be approved by the court. Also, does your neighbor have homeowners insurance covering the loss? This needs to be explored. Does your lawyer have experience in this type of case? If so, follow his/her advice.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 3/2/2012
Goodman & Goodman PA | Bruce Elliott Goodman
It would be unethical for any lawyer to evaluate a case where you are presently represented by an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 3/2/2012
Dungan, Lady, Kirkpatrick & Dungan PLLC | Michael Dungan
There is just not enough information here to give you an opinion. How old is your son, where was he bitten, what medical treatment was necessary, is there scarring, what was the breed of dog, are there trespass or provocation issues with your son, what county are you in, does the dog owner have home owners insurance, etc. You lawyer should be discussing all of these issues with you and more, and if the lawyer is recommending a settlement, the lawyer should be telling you why. Perhaps you need a second opinion.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/2/2012
Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry
Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry | Ronald Arthur Lowry
It depends on how much the settlement offer is. Your lawyer is in the best position to advise you.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 3/2/2012
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    Take your lawyers advice always. If you don't like his advice, fire him, hire another and take his advice.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    It is hard to know whether to accept the offer of the neighbor without more facts. If the neighbor has offered to pay medical expenses and your attorney feels the offer is a good one- it probably should be strongly considered. Filing a lawsuit and going to trial is very expensive, creates a lot of stress and will undoubtedly impact your relationship with the neighbor(s). If the child is permanently disfigured or otherwise injured in some way that is significant and in excess of just getting medical expenses paid, then perhaps there is more reason to consider seeking "more", but consider all of the impacts of a lawsuit, including the possibility that you may not prevail. Just because your son was bitten does not mean you will win the lawsuit.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    You hired that lawyer for his/her expertise and advice. Now you don't want to accept that advice. You can hire another lawyer to review the file and give you a second opinion. What your "feel" should not govern your decision. What you "deserve" is practically impossible to quantify. It's what you can get that counts.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Michael J. Sgarlat Attorney at Law | Michael Joseph Sgarlat
    First of all how badly injured was your son? Does he need plastic surgery? Nerve damage? etc... Who is paying - the home owner or his insurance carrier?? The costs of going to trial can be excessive. Consider paying court filing fees $200+, court reporters for hearings ($ 4150-$800, and depositions $300 -$400 per person per deposition taken, the expense of a doctor to review the records $500-$1,000 and then appear at trial $2,500- $4,000 and depositions of the doctor $1,500- $2,500 can get out of hand. Also consider that the time and aggravation to get a verdict can be lengthy. My clients are responsible to pay the expenses of their case. I get paid on a contingency basis but the expenses are the client's problem.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
    Discuss in details with your attorney what the advantages and disadvantages are of settling now. On the negative side of going to trial is that your lawyer fees probably go up, you will need medical reports that will cost $400-500, you never know what a jury will do, and if you have to bring in a physician as an expert witness that can cost $2-3000, most of which is not recoverable. If they offered you what you think the case is worth then they would feel they were overpaying you because yo are getting the amount you want. A settlement is whether both sides do not like the results but it is the best alternative of those possible so it is better to accept.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Lapin Law Offices
    Lapin Law Offices | Jeffrey Lapin
    I cannot answer whether you should "accept the settlement offered" as you provide no information about son's injuries or other information I would need. A client has the final decision whether to accept a settlement. A lawyer can only give advice whether a client should settle. You should listen to your lawyer's reasons why you should accept the settlement offer. There might be legitimate reasons why you should settle that you may not have considered. Ultimately, the decision is yours.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    There is no average or normal value for a dog bite case. The settlement value depends on the amount of medical expenses, issues such as long-term scarring, and the degree of fault of the dog owner. Your lawyer presumably knows all of these details. If you don't trust your lawyer's advice, ask him/her to explain to you why the amount offered is fair for your case.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Accept the offer.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Insufficient amount of information to form an opinion. That said, and not to be rude, but bet your attorney has a better idea of what the case is worth due to his experience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/19/2013
    Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP
    Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP | Kevin Habberfield
    Trust your lawyer. If you don't, go talk to him/her and tell them why. This is not a question anyone can answer here as we don't know the dollar amount or salient facts. Possibly, your attorney could provide you with the values of similar cases as a range of settlement and then explain where your son's case is on that spectrum. That being said, each case is different.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    I don't know enough about the facts to disagree with the lawyer who has a financial stake in the outcome as you do.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC | Robert Morrison Lucky
    Your lawyer is in the best position to advise you appropriately as he/she has all of the pertinent information regarding the case.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Mishkind Law Firm, Co., L.P.A.
    Mishkind Law Firm, Co., L.P.A. | Howard Mishkind
    If you have a lawyer you need to decide whether to accept his recommendation. If you feel that the case is worth more than is being offered you can always file a lawsuit and go to court. The unknown is whether the recovery in court will justify the added expense of trial. If you disagree with the lawyer and that lawyer has evaluated what the injuries are that your son suffered and whether the injury is permanent and whether your son will require further medical care you might want to ask the lawyer whether it would be acceptable for you to obtain a second opinion on the value of the case. If you and your attorney are unable to reach an understanding that you feel is in your son's best interest than you always have the right to hire another attorney. If your attorney is experienced in personal injury cases chances are he is giving you good advise however you want to do what is best for your son and ultimately you are going to have to go to probate court to have the settlement approved because your son is a minor.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Ford, Howard & Cornett, P.C. | Bradley Cornett
    No one can answer your question without further information (dog history, dog breed, nature of bite, extent of injuries, medical bills, subrogation, jurisdiction, available insurance coverage, etc.).
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Blackburn Law, PC
    Blackburn Law, PC | Stephen E. Blackburn
    Your question seems to indicate you are represented by a lawyer. If that is the case, it seems unusual that your neighbor would approach you directly and not go through your lawyer. Regardless, a good gauge as to what your son's claim is worth is not what you feel your son "deserves" but rather, what is the likelihood a jury would award you more, taking into consideration the expense and time requirements of going to trial?
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    Your question can't be answered unless you provide the nature and extent of your son's injury and the amount of the settlement offer.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
    The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
    It seems to me you are just looking for someone to agree with you. You didn't tell me anything about your case other than a dog bit your child and you want me to advise you on whether you should accept an unspecified amount of money. The person who you hired to help you, who presumably knows the facts of the case, has advised you to settle the case, but you are willing to trust my opinion, despite my lack of any knowledge about the case, as long as it confirms your "feeling" that you deserve "more." In my opinion you should talk to your attorney and find out why he or she feels that you should take the offer. Then you should make a reasonable decision, with your attorney's position weighing heavily in favor of the choice you make.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Koning & Jilek, P.C.
    Koning & Jilek, P.C. | Jonathan Neal Jilek
    This depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Michigan has a strict liability law for dog bites. This means that unless there is provocation of the dog, the owner will be responsible for paying damages. Without knowing more about the facts of the case and the damages involved, it is not possible to assess whether a settlement makes sense.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Downriver Injury and Auto Law | Michael Heilmann
    It is impossible to tell since I don't know what the offer is. You are the boss and need to discuss this with your lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm | Reza Torkzadeh
    It depends on many factors that your attorney should and is probably considering. The most important factor being the severity of the injuries your son received and the current offer. You should always consider the time, cost and difficulty of going through litigation. I would have your attorney explain to you the basis for which he is recommending settlement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/5/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    Take the money.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC | Russell D. Gray
    If you have a lawyer, you should follow the lawyer's advice. Incidentally, you haven't given specific information enough to allow a helpful answer you should give what injuries your son suffered, how much his medical bills were, and whether he has a permanent disability, along with the amount offered. Then, you might be able to get a more helpful answer. As it is, all I can tell you is listen to your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Listen to your lawyer; he undoubtedly has experience in what cases like your son's case usually bring by way of verdict.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    You should listen to your lawyer and take his advice. However, you may talk to your lawyer to see if your neighbor is willing to increase the offer.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 3/1/2012
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