According to al.com, Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain has settled a lawsuit from 2008 alleging that he hit a student twice with his car. According to the story, the plaintiff in this incident was seeking punitive damages of at least $75,000.00 as well as medical bills and likely also general damages.
To explain a complicated process as simply as possible, there are three types of awards in cases – medical bills, general damages – which include things like pain and suffering or a claim that marital relations suffered due to the injury, and punitive damages – which is basically an additional amount on top of the other monies paid as punishment because the defendant’s actions were so egregious.
If the plaintiff was seeking $75,000 in punitive damages it’s likely the claim for the pain and suffering was much, much higher – especially if, as the article says, he is claiming permanent injuries.
The settlement of this case means that McClain and his team can focus on the lawsuit involving an incident that occured while he was with the Raiders – the plaintiff claims that McClain punched him, threatened to kill him and fired a gun near his ear, partially deafening him.
The trial for the second incident is set to go to trial May 17th. It seems likely this case will also settle.
In my professional career as an insurance adjuster for injury claims, I’ve frequently been involved with discussion as to whether a case should be settled or go to trial.
There are many reasons to settle. Trial is inherently risky as both parties are taking their control of the situation and putting in the hands of 12 of their peers. It’s very expensive. It’s also extremely time consuming, which is bad for someone like McClain who has certain job responsibilities that he’ll need to be present for.
If McClain must take too much time to go to trial, his professional career could suffer, a fact that his legal team will certainly stress.
Finally, it carries a certain bit of embarrassment as facts, statements and other evidence is introduced by both sides in order to discredit their opponent and carry favor with the jury.
All of these facts make it likely that a settlement resolution will be sought be all parties involved. While there are times in which trial is either prudent or necessary, this appears unlikely to be the case.
There are strengths on both sides of the argument. For the plaintiff, McClain was arrested and the police officers’ opinions and testimony will carry some weight. On McClain’s side, there is no clear evidence of what happened. While he was arrested he has pleaded not guilty and I have some belief that it will difficult for the plaintiff to prove that he did what was alleged when his attorneys will be attempting to throw suspicion elsewhere.
In a civil trial, like this suit, the plainitiff does not have to prove that the defedent is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt but instead a preponderance of the evidence, which is easier to prove. It’s the reason that OJ Simpson was found not guilty in a criminal trial – beyond a reasonable doubt – but was found guilty in a civil trial – because the preponderance of the evidence was that he had committed the murders.
Even so, the odds on guess is that the claim settles. McClain has too much to lose and the plaintiff’s attorney will stress to him that it’s better to get an amount of money he knows he can be satisfied with instead of risking it all in court.
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