Why Do Cases Settle Just Before Trial?

Transcript: Your case is finally getting to trial after what seems like forever, and now all of a sudden the defendant is wanting to discuss settlement. Why? Why is this happening? Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub. There are many reasons why settlement discussions happen close to trial. First, both sides need to gather all the information that they can find about a case before they’re ready to discuss the case. The gathering of such information often is delayed as the case proceeds. Second, right before trial there are mandatory filings that take place where people identify their witnesses and their specific contentions before the court and the court makes rulings about what evidence is going to be admitted in trial and what evidence might be excluded from trial. All of these bits of information, including the court rulings, help the parties on both sides understand exactly what’s going to happen at trial, which helps them decide what their position is going to be on settlement. Third, there’s an incentive for all parties to a lawsuit to consider the cost of going forward with trial, and that cost usually comes due right about the time that trial is going to proceed when witnesses have to be paid, if they’re experts, or witnesses have to be subpoenaed, if they’re eye witnesses and fact witnesses, and so this consideration causes people on both sides of litigation to consider settlement. Fourth, as the day for trial comes fast approaching on the calendar, the parties on both sides come to appreciate the risk that is associated with going to trial. Even if there is a win at trial sometimes there can be an appeal and a case might be not finalized just because there’s a trial. And further, you could lose at trial. Up until trial, there’s no chance of losing. You’re just basically waiting for somebody to make a decision, so the defense may lose or the plaintiff’s side may lose. And that risk assessment causes people to start discussing settlement. These are just a few of the reasons why settlement discussions tend to happen when you get close to trial. We invite you to view the many other informational videos available, like this one, on our website.