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Risks, Rewards, and Pitfalls of Putting Your Case Before a Jury

By: Michael Rose

There are risks, rewards, and pitfalls when deciding whether a case should be tried in front of a jury or settled. Risks are found in the unpredictability of a jury. Rewards can include a jury verdict that exceeds the settlement offer. Pitfalls can include lawyers and clients losing objectivity with their case and becoming blind to faults. It’s for these reasons that an objective evaluation of the full case is vital before making a decision to take the case before a jury.

As an example, if a settlement offer is $900,000 and the full value of the case is $1 million, then is the extra $100,000 worth the risk of a jury? Is that amount of money still valuable to the client when post-trial motions and appeals can take approximately two years in some jurisdictions?

If we flip the story so that a $1 million case has a $100,000 settlement offer, then it might begin to make more sense to allow a jury to decide. It all boils down to how strong the case is and the risk tolerance of the client. If you believe the chances of winning the case and receiving the full $1 million are over 90%, then this is a good risk for a client. If the chances of winning the same case are 10% or under, then it’s a very different story. Next, and you must ask this regardless of the chances of winning, would a $100,000 settlement help the client? Or would the unfavorable chances at a positive jury verdict be in the best interest of the client?

In short, each situation is different. A jury can be difficult to predict, but a well-educated attorney and client are far more likely to reach a positive outcome.

Michael Rose is the senior partner and lead trial attorney at the law firm of Hach & Rose, LLP. He and his team have the experience necessary to make a decision about the risks and rewards of presenting a case before a jury. If you’re unhappy with a settlement offered to you or are seeking a knowledgeable attorney for your personal injury, construction accident, or wrongful death case, contact one of the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057.

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