Article Updated: September 10, 2021
How Long Does it Take to Negotiate a Settlement ?
I have negotiated well over 100 personal injury settlements, for well over $15,000,000.
It would be fair to say that I know how to negotiate a settlement.
Having gone down this road before, many times, I also know how long it takes to negotiate a settlement.
In this article you will learn:
◊ How long does it take to negotiate a settlement
◊ Real meaning and impact of a negotiated settlement
◊ Process lawyers use to negotiate a settlement
◊ How to negotiate a settlement with strength
Keep reading to learn how long settlement negotiations take, and more.
Clickable Table of Contents
Process to Negotiate a Settlement
How Long Do Settlement Negotiations Take
8 – About the Author
What Is A Negotiated Settlement?
A lot of lawyers do not explain what I am about to share with you, and it sets the settlement up for disaster, so here it is:
A settlement does not represent the true value of your case
Let’s say your case is worth $100. Putting aside some complicated exceptions (policy limits cases, open policies, excess verdicts, bad faith claims, etc.), you will never get $100 as a settlement offer.
I will explain this from your and the insurance company’s shoes.
Insurance Company Point of View
Why would the insurance company give you the full $100 to settle, when it can roll the dice at trial and maybe only have to pay you $50?
Put differently, the insurance company has nothing to gain by giving you your best day / full case value in a settlement.
The insurance company will only settle by saving some discount off of your best day, which allows the insurance company to hedge its bets.
The same is true for you.
Your Point of View
If your case is worth $100, and the insurance company only offers $20, why would you take that when you can roll the dice at trial and maybe get $100?
You should be accepting a settlement that lets you hedge your bets by eliminating the lows (the bottom end of the range).
But to do that, you have to give up some of your highs (the top end of the range).
This is the essence of personal injury settlement negotiations.
With this understanding, we can dig into discussion of processes and timelines.
How Do You Begin A Settlement Negotiation?
The First Step in Settlement Negotiations
In the great majority of cases, the plaintiff begins the settlement negotiations. That is done through a demand or a demand letter.
A demand, to start a settlement negotiation, can happen in a phone call, email, fax, or letter.
Beginning a Settlement Negotiation with a Numeric Demand
Lawyers will agree that settlement negotiations almost always start with a demand. However, they will disagree on how that demand should be presented in terms of a numeric request.
Some lawyers request a dollar amount in their settlement demand.
Other lawyers leave it blank, and make the insurance company present the first number.
There is no right or wrong answer on this point. It’s a matter of technique, and using situational awareness to vary the choice based on the specific case.
Process Lawyers Use to Negotiate A Settlement
Including the demand, here’s the full process lawyers use to negotiate a settlement:
◊ Prepare Your Claim
◊ Be Persistent
◊ Controll Your Emotions
◊ Remain Patient
I said that’s the process lawyers use, but it is also the process you must use, whether or not you have a lawyer.
Once the claim is prepared, your lawyer must diligently – but not obsessively – follow up to get a response.
What constitutes “diligently” and “obsessively” will vary from situation to situation.
I may wait two weeks or two months before following up.
An important balance must be struck between being persistent but not suggesting you are desperate.
That is accomplished, not just based on when you follow up, but how you follow up.
It took me a few years and a few dozen settlement negotiations to figure out the “how” part, in terms of following up without suggesting desperation.
How Long Do Settlement Negotiations take: The Negotiation Timeline
On the big question of, how long does it take to negotiate a settlement, I have a few responses, but they all hinge on one question:
How desperate are you to settle your case?
Any time a client asks me, how long do settlement negotiations take, I respond with the above question.
If you are desperate, that means you will take a huge discount to settle your case and it will take less time to settle your case. That is because in such a situation your lawyer can settle the case faster as she or he does not have to fight for every penny the insurance is willing to pay.
If you are not desperate and you are willing to go the distance to negotiate the largest settlement possible, it will take a lot more time to settle your case.
There is a direct correlation between how long you
wait fight it out and the size of your settlement.
That strikeout is intentional. You will not get more money simply by dragging things out and waiting longer before accepting a settlement.
You get more by fighting, beating up the defendant’s case, and building your case to perfection, which takes us to the next two topics.
Factors To Speed Up A Settlement
The fastest way to speed up a settlement, and do so favorably for you, is to fight hard, fight early, and fight often on building your case and poking holes in the defendant’s case.
That means coming out the gates taking depositions, getting top notch experts, preparing exhibits and demonstratives, and conducting other case workup.
That also means spending money. But the saying is true here, it takes money to make money.
If your lawyer invests in the case and builds it up, she or he will be showing demonstrably to the defendant and defense lawyer how good the case is.
The sooner the defense lawyers see that, the sooner they and their insurance overlords will negotiate a settlement that is fair.
Negotiating From A Position of Strength by Building a Solid Case
Thus, to gain a settlement advantage, you and your lawyer’s ultimate goal must not be (I know this will sound weird) to negotiate a settlement.
I live and die by this principle, which also means I live and die by the sword. For a true trial lawyer, that sword is a trial.
I do not accept a case that I am not prepared to take to trial.
In line with that, I do not prepare cases to present for strong settlement negotiations.
I prepare cases to try them in front of a jury. That’s not a negotiation gimmick, and it cannot be. It must be real, because your lawyer will get put to task and must be ready to pull the trigger.
If you want full value for your case, hopefully you have a lawyer that thinks and works like this.
Truth be told, I would rather take 100% of my cases to trial. I am young, I have the energy for it, I want the courtroom action, and I know my clients on average will do better at trial.
Because that is my truth, it is obvious to defendants and defense lawyers (including the ones reading this article).
If you find and hire a lawyer with this philosophy and mindset, you can never be bullied off a fair settlement because you are ready to take your claim the distance to trial.
Summary on How Long it Takes to Negotiate Settlements
To recap everything you just learned, how long it will take to negotiate your settlement will depend on:
- When Your Settlement Demand is Made
- How Much Money You Want
- How Aggressive & Diligent Your Lawyer is
- How Well Your Case is Trial Ready
If handled well, and right out the gates, utilizing the information above you can speed up how fast you negotiate a final settlement in your case.
Let An Experienced Lawyer Negotiate A Settlement for You
So how long do settlement negotiations take? You now know it depends, primarily on how bad you want to settle and how strong your case is.
I hope you are reading this article because you want to supplement what your lawyer has already explained for you.
If you are reading this article because you do not have a lawyer and are considering settling the case yourself, I trust you know the dangers, and wish you the best of luck.
If you would like professional help in your pursuit of justice, I invite you to email or message me using the contact form below so I can help you negotiate a settlement that is all inclusive and just.
Reza Davani, Esq.
State Bar No.: 1212110211
Federal Bar No.: 30168
About the Author
This nursing home and medical malpractice article was written by Baltimore, Maryland nursing home attorney Reza Davani, Esquire. Mr. Davani received his Juris Doctor degree from a Tier 1 law school, the University of Maryland Francs King Carey School of Law. He received his first license to practice law from the State of Maryland’s Court of Appeals (MD State License No. 1212110211), and just four months later received a federal law license from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland (Federal License No. 30168).
Mr. Davani has been practicing law for over 10 years. He began practicing law by helping clients as a sanctioned student lawyer before receiving his law license, and second chaired his first jury trial in federal court before even graduating law school. He is a registered member of the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Association for Justice (AAJ), and was formerly on the MAJ’s Legislative Leader’s Circle.
Mr. Davani has taken over 20 cases to trial in state and federal court, and favorably settled well over 100 cases for injured victims. He has personally helped his clients recover over $15,000,000 in personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse settlements and verdicts in Maryland and other states. He is dedicated to fighting for justice, and welcomes the opportunity to help you.
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