You’ve Received a Settlement Offer. Now What?
Receiving a settlement offer during the pendency of litigation can feel like the light at the end of the tunnel. Particularly if the litigation has been protracted and adversarial, you might feel compelled to accept a reasonable settlement offer when it comes across your desk. Before you accept, however, it’s important to conduct all relevant due diligence on the other party. By conducting appropriate asset searches, insurance policy tracing, and other intelligence investigations before accepting a settlement offer, you can ensure that you get the best deal for your client and protect your own professional interests. Below, the intelligence-gathering experts at Millennium Intelligence Agency (MIA) discuss some of the important facets of due diligence essential for any attorney to conduct prior to accepting a settlement offer.
Why Due Diligence Matters
It’s important to conduct your due diligence on the defendant before filing a lawsuit, during the pendency of the claims, and after receiving a settlement offer. As an attorney, it’s your job to represent the interests of your clients to the fullest extent possible. That means making sure that a settlement offer is the absolute best you can get under the circumstances, given the issues at hand as well as the resources of the defendant.
If you have received a settlement offer, conducting due diligence on the defendant can reassure you as to their actual financial circumstances. You may find that they have deeper pockets than you previously knew. They may point to limits on their insurance coverage and base their settlement offer on those policy caps, all the while having a separate insurance policy or other attachable assets available to cover your client’s full damages. Fight for the best results for your clients, secure a bigger recovery for your law firm as compensation for your efforts, and avoid potential malpractice liability down the line for the commission of an avoidable mistake. Get help from a dedicated insurance gathering agency to conduct due diligence on the defendant to protect your clients’ best interests as well as your own.
Insurance Policy Tracing
In many areas of litigation, when you are negotiating a settlement with a defendant, you are really negotiating with their insurance carrier. Few parties expect to or even can afford to pay settlements out of pocket. Many parties are less than forthcoming with all of their insurance coverage, however. In fact, in many cases, they may have simply forgotten that they have other general coverage policies that might kick in for the purposes of your legal dispute.
With an insurance policy trace, you can track down all relevant insurance policies carried by the defendant, ensuring both that they have insurance and that you know whether they have additional insurance coverage available. If they have a general liability policy or other excess coverage, you could be able to revise your demand and obtain a more favorable settlement for your client. With help from a professional intelligence-gathering service like MIA, you can:
- Conduct a national search for all possible liability policies, including auto insurance, professional malpractice, business, homeowners, product liability, umbrella policies, and others
- Confirm policy limits
- Verify that policies are current and have not been allowed to lapse
- Find umbrella policies and excess coverage that may apply if the proffered insurance does not cover your client’s damages
Part of your due diligence should be to verify the assets available to the defendant. Do not take their representations of their assets at face value. If they are offering a lowball settlement by claiming a lack of resources, you owe it to your clients to ensure that the other party is being honest. They may have other assets that are attachable or on which the party can rely to secure additional resources.
Retaining an intelligence-gathering agency to conduct an asset search of the other side can be an invaluable step in the settlement negotiation process. Before you accept a settlement offer, MIA can conduct an asset search to identify, for example:
- Real estate and Deeds
- Mortgage Information
- Brokerage accounts
- Offshore accounts
- Aircraft & Boats
- Bank Accounts
- Corporation & Business Affiliations
- Federal and State Tax Liens
If they have additional assets beyond those already disclosed, you may have leverage to make a counter-offer more favorable to your client. Additionally, the professional investigators at MIA can help provide assurances about your counter-party’s ability to pay even if you accept the settlement. An asset search can help track down liabilities that might interfere with payment, including:
- Prior bankruptcies
- Criminal convictions
- Prior judgments
- Current lawsuits
- Current and past employment
If you are performing due diligence in advance of a settlement, gathering evidence for pending litigation, tracking down a debtor’s assets, or trying to locate a missing party, Millennium Intelligence Agency is here for your support. Call our professional legal investigative team today at 213-986-9888 for thorough and experienced intelligence-gathering services.