Q: I was fired because i was pregnant, my lawyer wants me to settle for 100k. Should I?
A: That is a question you should discuss with your lawyer. You can ask him/her to give you a legal analysis in writing of all the reasons why this should be a good and reasonable offer, given the facts of your case. This is, of course, something you should have discussed with your attorney ahead of time so you could get a good understanding of what the attorney felt was the value of your case as the case was progressing. That all depends on numerous factors, such as your out of pocket losses, such as lost wages, if any, plus interest, and any other out of pocket expenses you may have suffered. Then you have to factor in the value of any mental and emotional distress you suffered as a result of your firing. That is a very difficult component of damages to calculate.
You also have to determine how credible a witness you are. In my own practice, sometimes my clients were their own worst enemies, and that has a definite impact on the value of a case.
Then you should add the amount you owe in attorney's fees, because by statute (law) you are entitled to be reimbursed for what you have to pay your lawyer. Add all that up and you get the value of your case. Then remember that you are compromising your case by way of settlement, so that it comes down to this: you have a case to sell, and the party you sued has a case to buy. The defendant's lawyers always try to lowball the plaintiff, while your attorney wants to maximize any settlement because that is usually the fund from which the fees will be taken.
Every good lawyer wants to maximize the client's case value, because that is how they make their income. But every time it comes down to what is the case worth. In the end, the best determination of that is what the defense is willing to pay to make it go away.
A: There is no way any stranger lawyer to your situation could possibly tell you if that amount is fair or reasonable because we do not know the circumstances of your situation. The settlement amount of a case is unique to each case based on a multitude of factors that need to be weighed. Just a few of the many factors that should be carefully analyzed include how much money you made at the old company, how long you were without a job after being terminated, how soon you got other employment and at what rate of pay, the specific legal claims you have arising out of this conduct, the defenses the former employer are asserting, the strength of the evidence supporting your case and supporting the defense arguments, the credibility of the witnesses that would testify if the matter proceeded to trial, the relative experience and reputation of the plaintiff and defense law firms, the venue for the trial, the trial judge's predictable impact on the case, the chance of collecting a judgment if one is awarded, the costs that would be involved in moving forward through trial, your need for money now vs. perhaps years from now, to name a few.
It is because settlement is such a complicated and case specific analysis that you really need to either rely on your attorney to answer these questions for you, or you pay another attorney to give you a second opinion, but only after that attorney has been allowed to fully understand all of the factor - and that review will not be cheap.
It feels like you do not trust your attorney. That is an issue you should have addressed long before money was placed on the table. However, at this point in time, no one is more factually qualified to perform the settlement analysis than the attorney that has worked the case from the outset.
Your option is to reject the offer, find another attorney, hire that attorney, and proceed with your lawsuit until another settlement offer is made, if ever. While that might give you more comfort, that kind of action can be quite disruptive and might sour any future attempt to settle your matter. Also if you do that, your present attorney will have a right to recovery part of the award, which may make it difficult for you to find an attorney willing to take the case knowing the prior attorney will be getting a big chunk of the recovery.
Your best approach is to communicate fully and clearly with your attorney, and for your attorney to do the same with you. Ask good questions and listen to the answers.
Good luck to you.
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