When an attorney gets a proposal for settlement for their client, notice should be sent. It could have important legal consequences. In such a circumstance, the Defendant has served what is known as a Proposal for Settlement. The client must decide whether to accept or reject the Proposal for Settlement. This article describes some of those laws – however, it is not up to date so seek legal advice about the current status of the law.
Under the law governing a Proposal for Settlement, clients have thirty (30) days from the date of the proposal within which to accept it unless the defendant withdraws it earlier. If the proposal is not accepted within the time allowed, the rules provide that it is considered rejected. To accept a proposal, it is necessary to file an acceptance within the time provided for by statute.
The Proposal for Settlement has no effect if the client receives a verdict in the case greater than 75% of the amount offered. Neither the proposal nor its rejection can be admitted in evidence or otherwise revealed to the jury.
However, if the Proposal for Settlement is not accepted, and the client receives a judgment that is at less than 75% of the amount offered in the proposal, the client could be required to pay the defendant’s costs and attorney’s fee incurred after the date the offer was made. This could mean that you would have to pay many thousands of dollars, the exact amount of which is not, at this time, able to be determined. Predicting jury verdicts is always very difficult to do.
If the client feels the offer is inadequate but are concerned about their potential liability for defense costs and attorney fees, there now is a way to protect yourself against that risk. Clients may purchase an insurance policy to protect yourself.
Because of the thirty (30) day time limit described above, it is necessary for clients to decide soon and to tell their attorneys in writing what their decision is so their attorney may take the necessary steps to protect your interests. A sample proposal for settlement (aka Offer of Judgment) is here:
In accordance with Rule 1.442 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and Section 768.79 of the Florida Statutes, Plaintiff, [name], hereby serves his Proposal for Settlement to the Defendant, [vehicle owner], only.
1. The Plaintiff, [single person], is making this Proposal to the Defendant, [vehicle owner], only.
2. This proposal is being made for the purpose of settling all of Plaintiff’s claims against [vehicle owner], only, and is intended to bring this litigation to a final conclusion as between Plaintiff, [single person], and [defendant owner], only. Therefore, neither this offer nor its acceptance by the defendant owner is intended to affect the Plaintiff’s claims against [defendant vehicle operator] or any other defendant. Therefore, if [defendant owner] accepts this proposal and complies with its conditions, Plaintiff will serve and file a NOTICE OF DROPPING PARTY WITH PREJUDICE, pursuant to Rule 1.250(b) as to [defendant vehicle owner], only.
3. To accept this proposal, the defendant, [vehicle owner], shall follow the applicable provisions of Rule 1.442(f)(1) and shall then tender payment in a check for the amount of the proposal to Plaintiff’s counsel within 20 days after delivery by the defendant of her acceptance of this proposal. Upon bank clearance of the check, the Plaintiff will serve his Notice of Dropping Party With Prejudice as to [defendant owner], only.
4. The total amount of this Proposal is TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($20,000.00). There are no non-monetary terms of this Proposal other than those set forth in paragraph 3 above.
5. There are no claims for punitive damages.
6. The amount of this Proposal is inclusive of all attorney fees and costs. Attorneys’ fees are not part of the legal claim.