CCP 998 offers can be a powerful tool for encouraging fair personal injury settlements
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. This is typically best for the plaintiff, since it allows them to secure the compensation they need without the stress, delays, and additional costs of a trial.
When it comes to securing fast and fair settlement offers for their clients, personal injury attorneys have many tools at their disposal. One tool that can be particularly helpful in cases where a settlement is difficult to reach is a CCP 998 offer.
What is a CCP 998 Offer?
A CCP 998 offer is a settlement offer with strings attached. The relevant law (California Code of Civil Procedure 998) encourages parties to settle by providing for financial penalties to apply any time one party (be it the plaintiff or the defendant) fails to “beat the offer”—i.e. fails to achieve a better result in court than was offered by their opponent.
Here’s How It Works
Both plaintiffs and defendants can make CCP 998 offers up until 10 days before the case goes to court or arbitration.
If the defendant makes an offer and the plaintiff refuses it, the plaintiff must obtain a more favorable judgment or award than was included in the offer. If they do not, they will lose their right to recover any court costs incurred after they received the CCP 998. Instead, they will have to pay any court costs the defendant incurred after the offer was made. The court also has the ability to order that the plaintiff pay the defense’s post-offer expert witness fees.
If the plaintiff makes an offer, the defendant refuses it, and then the plaintiff wins the case, the defendant will be required to pay the plaintiff’s costs. If the judgment that the plaintiff wins is more favorable than their 998 offer, the defendant may also have to pay the plaintiff’s post-offer expert witness fees, depending on the discretion of the court.
Making and Considering CCP 998 Offers
CCP 998 provides strong incentives for settlement offers to be made and considered very carefully. You wouldn’t want to make an unreasonably low offer, since you’d get stuck with financial penalties if your opponent won a better judgment in court. And you wouldn’t want to reject a reasonable offer for the same reason. In addition to carefully considering the appropriateness of the amount of the offer, you also must consider the likelihood of the party that made the CCP 998 offer winning the case.
Naturally, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side when making or considering CCP 998 offers. At The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, our firm has the experience and resources required to provide the superior quality representation you need. To learn more, call us at 800-333-0000 and request a free initial consultation.