In addition to seeking fair compensation for injuries suffered, one of the primary reasons plaintiffs file personal injury lawsuits is because they want their day in court. Television dramas have led us to believe that, in addition to paying damages, making a defendant admit to—and be accountable for—their wrongdoing is the greatest reward a lawsuit can bring. Although plaintiff verdicts at trial can result in large awards, and be emotionally vindicating, there are many sound reasons why plaintiffs should consider the benefits of settling their lawsuit before trial, especially in pharmaceutical and medical device cases.
Settling a lawsuit for fair compensation without an admission of fault is often the most advantageous route a plaintiff can take. In fact, according to United States government statistics, only 4% to 5% of personal injury cases actually end up at trial. The remaining cases, if not dismissed for various reasons, settle before the case reaches the courthouse.
One of the biggest reasons to consider settling a drug or medical device case before trial is the length of time it takes to actually get to trial. Lawsuits related to defective drugs or medical devices often involve claims brought by hundreds or thousands of individuals who used the drug or device and were injured in a similar way. A common practice in federal courts is to consolidate all of the cases to a single court where they can be coordinated and handled by a single judge. Although this practice provides significant efficiencies, it can also slow the overall litigation process. It is not uncommon for several years to pass before the first of the thousands of coordinated cases goes to trial. Even after the first or several trials, the court system is not equipped to handle all of these cases through trial. I have personally seen medical device cases progress for 5 to 7 years before the first case is put before a jury. Fortunately, the opportunity for settlement often presents itself long before your individual drug or medical device case is considered for trial.
Settlement also enables a plaintiff to avoid the excessive costs associated with trial. As compared to a slip-and-fall or automobile accident case, where the decision at trial will normally have an impact on only a single party plaintiff and single party defendant, the outcome of drug and medical device cases can have an indirect impact on hundreds or thousands of injured plaintiffs. Beyond that, from a manufacturer’s perspective, the financial implications can be in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. It is because of the high stakes that parties spare no expense in preparing and presenting their medical device and drug cases at trial. The cost of medical and scientific experts alone can be several million dollars. These expert costs, along with the cost of depositions, document management and trial presentation, can eat away at any potential recovery and make the prospect of settling before incurring these costs a more attractive and reasonable financial decision.
Most significantly, resolving your case with a fair settlement removes the significant risk of losing at trial. Government statistics indicate that only 10% of personal injury cases that go to trial result in verdicts in favor of the plaintiff. Having to satisfy the burden of proof at trial, plaintiffs who commonly have underlying medical conditions that required the use of the drug or medical device may face an uphill battle in the courtroom. Does the lack of a guaranteed victory mean that I shouldn’t file my case? – No, not necessarily, but it does mean that you should give strong consideration to reasonable offers of settlement that may enable you to avoid the risks of trial.
The postings on this blog were created for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. Although we attempt to ensure that the postings are complete, accurate, and current as of the time of publication, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.
This blog may contain links to independent third party websites and services, including social media. We provide these links for your convenience, and you access them at your own risk. We have no control over and do not monitor the content or policies (including privacy policies) of these third-party websites and have no responsibility for, and no liability with respect to, their content, accuracy, or reliability. Unless expressly stated, we do not endorse any of the linked websites or any product, service, or publication referenced herein or therein. We will remove a link to any site from this blog upon request of the linked entity.
We grant permission to readers to link to this blog so long as this blog is not misrepresented. This site is not sponsored or associated with any other site unless so identified.
If you wish for Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., to consider representing you, please obtain contact information from the Contact Us area of this blog or go to the firm’s website at www.wilentz.com. One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. However, the authors of Wilentz blogs are licensed only in New Jersey and/or New York and do not wish to represent anyone who viewed this site in a state where the site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.