Sacramento Woman Must Fight For Costs Despite Favorable Car Accident Verdict, Part 6 of 7

The following blog entry is written to illustrate a common motion filed during civil litigation. Reviewing this kind of filing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)


On January 6, 2010 Ms. Hill made a section 998 offer to compromise in the amount of $18,000. This offer was rejected by defendants. Section 998, which reflects this state’s policy of encouraging settlements (Poster v. Southern Cal. Rapid Transit Dist. (1990) 52 Cal.3d 266, 270), creates a financial incentive to encourage the parties to make and accept reasonable settlement offers. (Berg v. Darden (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 721, 726-727.) Marcey v. Romero (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 1211, 1215-1216. It is undeniable that Ms. Hill’s 998 offer was reasonable. It was only $1,550 more than the jury verdict. Ms. Hills offer was far more reasonable than defendants’s 998 offer of $7,500.

Pursuant to CCP § 998 when determining if the defendants did not obtain a more favorable judgment than Ms. Hill’s 998 offer Ms. Hill is entitled to add to her jury verdict both pre and post offer statutorily recoverable costs. Stallman v Bell (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 740, 748. The court in Stallman provided the following rationale:

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

Where, as here, it is the plaintiff who makes the section 998 offer, and the defendant who rejects it, the Bennett rationale does not apply. There is, then, no reason to limit the plaintiff to damages plus preoffer costs for purposes of determining whether the judgment exceeds the offer.

Rather, both pre- and postoffer costs should be added to the verdict to determine the amount of the judgment. In this case it is the defendant who has impeded the statutory purpose by rejecting the offer, thus allowing the plaintiff to incur postoffer costs. Stallman v Bell (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 740, 748 (emphasis added).In this case, Ms. Hill incurred preoffer costs in the amount $1,719.35. When combined with the Jury verdict of $16,450, the total of the preoffer costs and the jury award is $18,169.35. All of Ms. Hills preoffer costs are recoverable by statute. Defendant has made no specific objections to any of Ms. Hills preoffer costs. Additionally, Ms. Hill incurred statutorily recoverable postoffer costs of $2,470.71. The totaljudgment, including statutory costs and the jury award but excluding any expert fees allowed by CCP 998, is $20,590.06. This far exceeds Ms. Hills CCP 998 offer of $18,000. Accordingly, the defendants did not obtain a more favorable outcome by rejecting Ms. Hill’s $18,000 998 offer. (See Part 7 of 7.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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