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Can an offer of judgment help me avoid litigation?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Business Lawsuits & Disputes |

Civil cases can be complex. Some cases are resolved by a trial in court. This can be a lengthy and expensive process for all parties.

Consequently, the vast majority of civil cases end in a settlement. An offer of judgment is a legal tool used in Florida to reach an out-of-court agreement.

A formal written proposal

An offer of judgment is a formal written proposal created on behalf of a plaintiff. The offer should name the plaintiff and provide precise terms as to how the plaintiff would like the case to be resolved. For example, it may contain a sum of money plus attorney fees required to settle the case out of court. Or, it may formally request that the defendant performs a specific action to honor a previously agreed upon contract.

What happens after the proposal?

Once the offer of judgment has been sent to a defendant, they typically have 30 days to respond. If the offer of judgment is accepted, then parties can move on to take the steps required to meet the demands of the proposal. If the offer is rejected, then both parties can continue negotiating, pursue some form of alternative dispute resolution or argue their case at trial.

There is an element of risk for both parties in terms of going to trial, and this risk should be balanced against the strength of the case. If the defendant rejects the offer and loses at trial, they may be requested to pay 25% more for attorney fees than was stated in the offer of judgment. Nonetheless, if the defendant succeeds at trial, then this 25% can be added onto the plaintiff’s expenses. The plaintiff also has the option to withdraw an offer up until the point that the defendant has accepted it.

An offer judgment can be a useful means of resolving a legal dispute in ways that are far more cost effective than litigation. Nonetheless, the offer must be clear and precise and must not contain vague or unfair terms. We help businesses to resolve disputes as efficiently as possible. Contact us today for a consultation.

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