Jeffrey Kaliel Answers: When Is the Best Outcome in a Lawsuit Taking a Settlement?

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You have been injured. You have been wronged. You have been cheated. You want your day in court. But the best outcome, especially when the law is on your side, is to come to an acceptable settlement, says master litigator Jeff Kaloel.

Here are the reasons why.

Trials are stressful and expensive

Most courts have heavy dockets. It can take months or even years to get your long-awaited day in court. Even then, the other side may request and the judge may grant continuances. Before you get there, however, both sides will establish the facts in a process called discovery.
Eventually, discovery ends. This is the point at which one side could ask for summary judgment. This is asking the judge to look at the facts that both sides agree on and rule in their favor. Summary judgment is not a common outcome.
Next, your court date is scheduled. Before the trial can begin, the lawyers choose the jury from the jury pool by a process called voir dire. Then the trial begins.
There are strict rules on how your lawyer can present your case, about what constitutes evidence, and the kinds of questions attorneys can ask. You may be called to testify under oath. You may be cross-examined,
Let’s say the jury agrees with your claim. Then there will be the determination of damages. Then you have to collect your damages—if the defendant doesn’t appeal.
Years of your life pass without getting any kind of compensation for your loss. Even worse, you can be countersued so, if you lose, you wind up paying the other party’s lawyers.

Jeffrey Kaliel Identifies Five Situations in Which It is Better to Settle

Sometimes the only way to get a fair settlement is to take a case to court, attorney Jeff Kailel says. But in more situations than not, you should consider settling out of court.
When is it usually better to settle?

  • The other party is someone close to you. If you can settle out of court, you may be able to preserve the friendship or the family relationship.
  • The legal fees would exceed the settlement. Lawyers won’t take the case if they assess the potential settlement as not covering their usual legal fees.
  • You don’t have the time or energy to pursue the case. The time you spend in court and preparing for court is time you don’t spend working, with your family, or enjoying your life.
  • Your attorney believes the outcome of the case is unpredictable. If your attorney thinks a win is anything but a sure thing, your best outcome may be to settle.
  • You are part of an injured class. You can’t take on big banks or big insurance or big companies over small claims. Thousands or even millions of injured parties can. In those cases, however, lawyers almost always come to a settlement agreement.

After serving as a Staff Sergeant in the US Army in the Second Iraq War, earning Airborne and Mountain Warfare certifications, Jeff Kaliel graduated with a degree in law from Yale University. Over the last 15 years, he has successfully represented plaintiffs in complex class action cases. He lives in Washington, DC with his three children and his wife, Debbie.


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