Should You Sue?
Every time you are in a car accident and are injured you have a choice to make: Do you sue? In California every driver is required to have automobile insurance that covers at least $15,000 for personal injury claims. What that means, is that in almost every car accident you are dealing with an insurance company. This is good because it means there is some money there to compensate you for your loss, but that does not mean the insurance company will just offer the full extent of the coverage immediately. As I have said before these companies want to settle the claim for as little as possible.
What this means is that the insurance companies will try to resolve the claim quickly and undervalue your injuries. However, if you file a lawsuit the claim will switch departments within the insurance company and transition to the legal department of the insurance company. They generally have wider authority to grant a higher settlement amount, but they are also much more difficult to deal with.
One of the best ways to determine whether or not to sue is to analyze what the insurance company is offering you compared to how much out of pocket expenses you have. If the offer already offsets your expenses, then you are in good territory. If not, then perhaps the only way to make them give you what you deserve is by suing them as it will show that you are serious.
If, however, their offer does cover all of your out of pocket expenses then you should do a cost benefit analysis of the cost of pursuing a higher offer. It isn’t just dollars and cents either (please do not forget the significant legal costs), it is the opportunity costs as well. When you sue someone for personal injury you arguably put your entire medical history at issue. You also must answer extensive discovery questions that depending on your claim can be quite invasive—by way of example: if you claim loss of consortium your sex life becomes relevant to the case.
You will also have to at some point sit through a deposition in which an attorney grills you for seven hours trying to trip you up. Finally, if you go to trial you then have to sit in a courtroom for 3-14 days trying to stay awake.
All of this is to say, no matter how well your attorney protects you from the ugliness of litigation, your personal time and history will be put on display in a public matter, and that can be too much for a lot of people. As a result, sometimes it is best to sacrifice the money for your personal happiness—but a lot of times it’s not.