Settlement Offers Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 998 and the Importance of Accurate Knowledge About Your Case’s Value 

Settlement Offers Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 998 and the Importance of Accurate Knowledge About Your Case’s Value 

Most California civil cases settle before a verdict, and settlement using California Code Civil Procedure Section 998 offers one way to do that. Rejecting a Section 998 offer carries possible financial risks, which is why having a Santa Barbara car accident lawyer with a strong and accurate sense of your case’s value is vital. 

In the Section 998 framework, a party makes a written offer to settle the case for a fixed amount. The recipient may accept it, reject it, or do nothing, in which case the offer expires within 30 days or when the trial starts. The risk of rejecting an offer is that, if you end up with an award that’s less than the amount in the other side’s Section 998 settlement offer, you may be held responsible for paying a certain portion of the other side’s costs and legal fees. 

While it isn’t a vehicle accident case, a recent personal injury matter from San Diego illustrates the importance of properly assessing of a case’s value and how that analysis can bear significant financial fruit.  

In the case, the plaintiff was a woman who allegedly suffered substantial injuries walking across a Walmart parking lot. According to her complaint, the woman stepped into a deep pothole and fell, causing her to suffer multiple herniated discs that required spinal fusion surgery to address. 

The woman alleged that her medical bills alone totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The store contended that the pothole was only ½-inch deep, was readily visible and obvious, and that the woman was distracted by her cell phone when she fell. The store made a 998 offer of $150,000.

The woman’s legal team correctly recognized the case as much stronger and more valuable than just $150,000, rejecting the offer. Ultimately, the jury awarded the woman more than $2.4 million.

How Does My Lawyer Assess My Case?

A lawyer, judge's gavel, and miniature car symbolize court action or auction following a car accident and insurance payout. Discover the legal implications.

Assessing a case’s “worth” often begins with an in-depth investigation. Once that is complete, your lawyer can identify all of the potentially culpable parties, analyze each party’s potential degree of fault, and have a greater sense of the extent of your injuries and the overall harm you’ve suffered.

The investigation may also require consulting subject matter experts. This can include medical experts regarding your physical harm, scientific experts regarding the accident itself, and/or economic/vocational experts about the income you have lost (and will lose.)     

After that – and this is where having experienced counsel is crucial – your legal team will take those factual pieces, put them together, and compare them to past outcomes to get a sense of what a jury might do with your case. That requires not just having experience dealing with cases like yours, but also having experience pursuing cases in the location and the courts where your case would go forward. 

A car accident lawsuit may allow you to recover compensation for medical expense-related losses, including emergency medical care, hospitalizations, surgeries, prescriptions, physical therapy, diagnostic imaging tests, and more. You also can recover compensation for lost income and (physical and psychological) pain and suffering. To get what you deserve, you need a legal team that will thoroughly investigate to determine how much you are entitled to, and then fight to get you everything you deserve. The diligent Santa Barbara car accident attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP are here to fight for you to the end, whether that’s a settlement or a judgment. The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin investigating your case and taking action for you.


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