In the past few months, several large hip manufacturers have announced global settlements programs in an effort to resolve thousands of lawsuits alleging that their hips were defective. In almost all of these cases, the amounts being offered by the defendants do not reflect the true settlement value of the cases. However, despite the small amounts being paid, most plaintiffs are settling their cases as part of these settlement program. In considering a settlement, here are important things to consider.
- The decision to settle your case is yours and yours alone. If you have an attorney that is telling you that “you have to settle your case” for an amount that you believe is less than what you deserve, get a second opinion. When getting a second opinion, try to find an attorney who is active in the litigation and has a large number of cases. Most plaintiffs’ attorneys would be happy to speak with you free of charge.
- Understand that in settling large mass hip cases, the defendants really have two points of leverage. First, because there are thousands of similar cases clogging the courthouse, they can make you wait. If you decide not to participate in a global settlement program, the only way to get the defendant to pay what your case is worth is to get a trial date. In most cases, judges are not interested in setting cases for trial until all the other cases have been settled. This can often take years. Second, the defendants in these hip cases rely heavily on the fact that many plaintiff’s lawyers who file them do not have the financial resources to try one to a jury. The defendants know that these attorneys will often pressure their clients to accept settlement that are less than they deserve.
- Know that you if you do not settle your case, you may have to wait years for a better settlement is offered. Many plaintiffs, especially those who are older, are not willing to wait.
- Understand that when a settlement is offered you have to take into account the “deductions.” In almost all cases, there are three items that will come out of your settlement; attorney’s fees, expenses, and insurance liens. Make sure your attorney lists all of these deductions out and tells you what your “net settlement” will be before you sign any settlement documents. The only exception to this advice has to do with “insurance liens.” Insurance liens constitute the amount that you have to pay to your health insurance company from your settlement for any treatment it paid for that is associated with your defective hip. Determining the amount of an “insurance lien” requires negotiations with your health insurance company and these negotiations can often take several weeks or months. You may not know the amount of the lien by the deadline for accepting a settlement. However, your attorney should be able to determine the maximum amount of the lien be examining your medical bills.
- Feel free to ask your lawyer questions. In most hip cases, the injuries suffered by plaintiffs are substantial and once your case is settled, its settled forever. Make sure your attorney answers every question you have and that you are satisfied with his answers. If you are not receiving acceptable answers or you lose faith in your lawyer, get a new lawyer. In most states, the law permits plaintiffs to switch lawyers without paying any additional fees.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your recalled or defective hip, call Kershaw, Cook & Talley, LLP at 888-635-3970 for a free case consultation.