What Is a 998 Offer to Compromise in California?
As an example, if the defendant does not believe he or she is responsible for the accident, he or she may file a 998 Offer to Compromise. The document will state that the defendant will waive costs in exchange for the dismissal of the case. If the plaintiff does not agree to accept that offer, and the defense actually prevails at trial, then the defense is entitled to be awarded their costs and expert fees. This could be very expensive for a plaintiff who lost his or her case because witnesses didn't show up or changed their testimony.
Plaintiffs can also use an Offer to Compromise. If you believe that your case has a valid value, then filing a 998 Offer to Compromise at that amount places tremendous pressure of the defendant to settle. Additionally, a 998 Offer to Compromise for the policy limits of a defendant is very detrimental if, in fact, the defendant loses at trial for an amount greater than the policy limits. Not only are you capable of collecting the policy limits but also your expert fees and costs, as well as the judgment against the defendant, at a later date.
A 998 Offer to Compromise penalizes the party who does not accept the offer and loses at the time of trial. In California, it is not true that there are loads of frivolous lawsuits because the 998 Offer to Compromise, for the most part, eliminates such lawsuits, or the party pays the ultimate price of having to reimburse the defense.
Of course, insurance companies and tort reform advocates would tell you otherwise. However, the truth is that a 988 Offer to Compromise is a subtle but extremely dangerous tool that either party can use.
If you've been involved in an automobile, truck, bicycle, or motorcycle accident and you need an attorney to help you through the maze of litigation, please contact our office for a free consultation. We will be happy to guide you through the process. Call us at 866-981-5596.