You are involved in a lawsuit, and the opposing side wants to meet to discuss a possible settlement.  This can be wonderful news, because it means you can potentially avoid the cost and uncertainty of going to trial. 

But, if you do not go into the settlement negotiation with the proper mind set and preparation, you can often walk out of the negotiation feeling like you have lost, when you really have won.

For a settlement negotiation to work, both sides have to be willing to give in some.  Your attorney will do all the heavy-lifting of trying to convince the opposing side and presenting your argument, but it is always your decision on whether to take or reject an offer presented by the other side.  As a result, it is important for you to keep the right perspective so that you can recognize a winning offer when you see it.

It is easy to get caught up in the heat of the negotiation and lose sight of what is really a good deal.  The opposing side will try to explain weaknesses in your case, to get you to yield to what they are asking for.  It is natural in such a situation to want to dig in your heels and become more entrenched in your ideal outcome.  Then, when you do not get everything you are asking for, you feel disappointed with the overall outcome of the negotiation. 

To keep perspective and recognize a “win,” it is important to work with your attorney ahead of time and define at least three key numbers: (1) your ideal; (2) what you think is reasonable; and (3) your “drop-dead” point.

(1)  Your Ideal Outcome

This is likely the easiest part to define, and you have likely already identified this.  You want to have a clear definition of what your ideal outcome is in a perfect world.  However, you must also realize from the very beginning that you will most likely not end up with that.

(2)  Your Reasonable Offer

Because there is give-and-take in a negotiation, it is important to work with your attorney and define ahead of time what you feel is a “reasonable” outcome.  This requires you to look at the case from an objective or outside viewpoint and determine what you think the case is really worth, based on your strengths and weaknesses.  This number should take in consideration the monetary and emotional costs of attorneys fees, expert witnesses, sleepless night, and the uncertainty of the verdict if you were to take the matter all the way to trial.  Your attorney will be able to provide you with important insight as you work to determine this offer.  Having this number in mind will help you to feel more comfortable with making certain concessions or coming off of your ideal outcome through the course of the negotiation.  It will help prevent you from feeling that you have already lost the very first time your attorney makes an offer that is something less than your ideal.

(3)  Your Drop-Dead Point

It is always the client’s decision whether to accept or reject a settlement offer.  Just because you start a settlement negotiation does not mean that you have to come to an agreement; you can always walk away.  With that in mind, it is important to define ahead of time, when you are not in the heat of negotiation, the lowest amount you would receive (or highest amount you would pay, depending on which side you are on) before you would walk away from the deal.  This is based on your own comfort level and also you and your attorney’s evaluation of the point at which it is worth it to take your chances at trial.  This is the absolute “worst” offer that you would accept and still be comfortable calling the negotiation a “win.”

During the negotiation, your attorney will obviously try to get the best deal possible for you, and you do not have to take the very first offer that is within your range.  By defining the above potential offers ahead of time, and keeping them in mind during the negotiation process, you will be better prepared to recognize a win when it presents itself.  At the end of the negotiation, if you have accepted an offer that is somewhere between your ideal and your drop-dead-point, you have won and should celebrate a successful settlement negotiation. For more information about how to recognize a settlement win, contact your Sioux Falls Law Firm, Omaha Law Firm, or Sioux City Law Firm today! Also don't forget to check out our trial blog for more posts like this one! http://blog.goosmannlaw.com/trial-lawyer-on-you-side 


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