During a pretrial settlement conference, what is the likelihood that you will be able to speak to the judge who is supervising these settlement discussions?
Can You Speak to the Judge during Settlement Discussions
As your medical malpractice case looms closer to the date of trial, there will be pretrial settlement discussions. You will be called to court by your lawyer, so that you can be present if the defense actually makes an offer. Your lawyer will want to speak to you about the risks and benefits of accepting or rejecting an offer.
There may be some instances when you might feel like speaking to the judge before you decide to accept or reject an offer. How likely is it that you will be able to speak to the judge who is supervising these settlement discussions? The answer is, you might not be able to do this. However, there might be some instances where the judge will agree to speak to you. There is not a definitive answer to this point.
There are many different reasons why the judge will not want to speak to the injured victim during any settlement discussions for a medical malpractice case. If your lawyer thinks that you speaking to the judge is going to be a key component of getting you to agree or disagree with the settlement offer, then your lawyer will go to the judge and explain to him why it is important that he speak with you. In some limited instances, the court will go ahead and allow you to speak to the judge.
What happens When the Victim is Allowed to Speak with the Judge
Whenever the injured victim is allowed to speak to the judge, the judge will be very straightforward or very blunt with the victim. The judge will usually come right out and say that in this court, in this venue, and in this type of case, here is what I have seen in the past.
The judge might even tell the victim based on his experience with such cases that if the victim does not accept the offered settlement then there is a powerful likelihood the victim might lose the case and ultimately up with nothing. Even if the victim appeals, he will have to wait many years to receive the ultimate decision which could still be the same.
On the other hand, the judge might tell you, the victim, that he might be able to get you a little more money by speaking to the defense attorney. The judge will then speak to the defense lawyer in private, and see if there is a possibility of increasing the compensation amount that has been offered to the victim. After that, you will be called in and the judge will let you know whether he has been successful or not.
Trial Date Announced if No Agreement is Solidified
However, in the majority of cases, the judge will not want to speak to the litigant. It is mainly the job of your lawyer to explain to you the risks and benefits of any proposed offer and the judge is there to put pressure on the defense as well as on you to try to reach a negotiated settlement before going to trial. If the negotiations fail, the judge will simply announce the trial date.