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Every no-fault auto accident case in Michigan gets referred to case evaluation before it goes to trial. Find out what case evaluation is, and how it can affect your case. It could change your mind about settlement.
You and your attorney have filed an auto accident complaint, waded through piles of discovery papers, and lived through your deposition. Now, your case has been “referred to case evaluation.” But what does that even mean?
Case evaluation is a form of “alternative dispute resolution.” In other words, its one way that cases can be resolved without going to trial. If your case is referred to case evaluation, your lawyer and the insurance company’s defense attorneys will each present their case to a panel of impartial lawyers using briefs, affidavits, and other paperwork gathered during discovery.
The panel has one job: to set a value on each case. This value is set based on the probability of success or failure at trial, and on the amount you may be entitled to recover. After weighing both sides, the panel will set a settlement recommendation. What you do with that number will affect the outcome of your case.
Deciding to accept a case evaluation recommendation is often the first signal of victory for auto accident victims. If you believe the recommendation is enough to compensate you for your no-fault benefits or your third party damages, then your case can be resolved quickly. But only if the insurance company agrees.
If both sides agree that the case settlement recommendation is reasonable, the case is over. A judgment will be entered with the court awarding you the amount of the recommendation. Then the insurance company will cut you a check and you’ll be able to move on with your life.
Sometimes, a case evaluation recommendation falls short. In those cases, you may reject the panel’s recommendation. On the other side, insurance defense attorneys may reject a case evaluation recommendation if they believe they can win at trial. But doing so involves a risk.
If you reject a case evaluation recommendation, you need to do at least 10% better at trial. Otherwise, you will have to pay all the other side’s attorney fees that occurred after the rejection.
For example, where the case evaluation panel recommends settling for $100,000.00, if you reject the recommendation, you have to win at least $110,000.00 at trial. If you win $109,000.00, you will have to pay for the insurance company’s trial attorney fees. If the defendants reject the same recommendation and you win $91,000.00 at trial, the insurance company will have to pay your attorney fees as well.
Case evaluation can feel like a black box to auto accident victims. But the recommendation that comes out of the process can change everything about your case. Make sure you and your auto accident attorneys carefully review the recommendation, so you can make an informed decision whether to go to trial.