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Title: Should I settle my compensation claim?

Date: 01 February 2012

Question

My legal case has been going on for 4 years following very serious injuries (multiple fractures, spleen removal and an iliostomy). I don’t remember much about the accident which involved me and a car pulling out of a side road in front of me. There was a witness who said although the guy pulled out of me i had gone around the bend on the approach to the side road at a high speed. Another witness has been found all this time later who my solicitor says does not help my case in any way. A trial is due to take place this summer. My solicitor is recommending I make a “commercial settlement” offer and if they don’t accept that a “drop hands” offer. They have not explained these to me fully and I cannot get through to them on the phone – can you explain them?

Hugh Evans, Abergavenny

Answer

For your solicitor to be recommending such tactics means that prospects of success cannot be very good at all. I have not got access to your file so cannot comment on liability or the value of the claim but I can explain these terms. A commercial settlement is when an offer is effectively made to the other side that is on the low (usually very low) side and as such enables the opponent to “buy off” the risk of losing at court for a cheap price. This provides certainty to the defendant and often works unless the claim has hopeless prospects. A drop-hands offer is one where the parties agree to conclude the claim with no payment of compensation and with each party bearing its own legal costs. The usual rule is that the loser pays the winner’s costs.

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