The most common mistake injured parties make regarding settlement negotiations is having an arbitrary dollar amount fixed in their minds. It is smart to go into a negotiation with a reasonable target range, but not necessarily a drop-dead number.
Furthermore, it makes little sense to go into a settlement negotiation thinking you must come away with the given amount of money for reasons that have nothing to do with the provable evidence in the case. For example, if a client may say that he needs a certain settlement amount because of the anticipated cost of a new car, or home in the Bay Area, or to pay off a debt that is unrelated to the case. Such an objective is entirely unhelpful unless the value of the case happens to be consistent with one’s personal objectives.
Clients also sometimes insist on a magical round number such as one million dollars. It is important to recognize that juries don’t decide cases that way and therefore we shouldn’t negotiate using arbitrary measurements.
A settlement amount normally must have some rational relationship to the value of the case in addition to other dynamics, such as a particularly outrageous act or an unlikeable defendant.
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