If you’re facing a liability claim, then there’s a lot on the line for you and your business, even if you’re an insurance company. A judgment against you can be costly, and it can also damage your reputation. That’s why it’s imperative that you know how to aggressively defend your interests in a car or truck accident case, or any other type of personal injury claim you might be facing.
As you’re probably well aware, a lot of these cases are settled before going to trial. But to maximize your chances of reaching a favorable resolution, you need to be prepared as if you’re going to litigate your case in front of a judge and jury. Therefore, you’ll want to do the following in preparation for your settlement negotiations:
- Conduct depositions: A lot of people see depositions as a way to figure out how a witness is going to testify should a case go to trial. While this is certainly one of the objectives, there are other advantages to conducting depositions. To start, depositions allow you to discover information that you might not have known, which can result in leads that need followed up on. Oftentimes these leads allow you to find holes in the plaintiff’s case that can be exploited to your advantage. Additionally, a deposition can allow you to spot weaknesses in a witness’s potential testimony, which can set you up for impeachment at trial, whereby you draw that witness’s credibility into question. Both of these aspects of a deposition can serve you well at the negotiation table.
- Research case law: Regardless of the issue you’re facing, there have probably been a number of similar cases. By researching case law, you can better gauge how a judge or jury may act on your claim. This can give you ammunition at the negotiation table when the case law supports your position. On the other hand, if the case law is against you, then you need to be aware of the risk of going to trial.
- Know your general defense options: Depending on the circumstances at hand, you’ve probably got one or more defense options at your fingertips. As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, frolic and detour, contributory negligence, and even road and weather conditions can protect you from a liability claim. You need to know how to aggressively approach those issues and have arguments supporting those defenses before sitting down for settlement talks.
- Develop a negotiation strategy: Once you’re fully informed, you can work on developing your negotiation strategy. You’ll want to identify when to walk away and take your chances at trial, as well as where you can push for a stronger resolution in your favor. In addition to the steps above, you’ll want to anticipate how the plaintiff is going to act and argue during negotiations. Since they’ll probably be following similar steps, you’ll need to be prepared to be deposed so that you can answer questions in a way that clearly articulate your position and the truth.
Don’t leave your case to chance
A serious personal injury case can be enormously costly, setting your company back significantly. That’s why you can’t take any chances when it comes to building your case. Before engaging the other side, you want to make sure that you have the best liability defense possible under the circumstances, which means not only knowing the law, but also how to aggressively apply it to your set of circumstances.