The dramatic trials of Hollywood productions are not what most people experience when filing personal injury cases. In fact, 95% to 97% of these claims never go to trial, according to the latest research. They are resolved or discarded first. This is largely because litigants want to avoid the costs and/or risks of the trial if there is a favorable alternative resolution.
This must be known to the victims of negligence, the plaintiffs in these cases. Not only do you set your expectations for what’s ahead, but you can also prepare them if or when the clearance offers are on the table. When they are, plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits will have to make one of the most difficult decisions in their case, they will have to decide whether to settle or go to trial.
Settlement or Go to Trial: 4 Key Factors to Consider
At the crossroads of accepting a personal injury settlement or taking a case to trial, plaintiffs can face a decision that is often complex and emotional. Taking these key factors into account can begin to provide some clarity, and shed light on what may be the best option when considering the circumstances and the case.
The settlement offer
Does the offer provide adequate compensation for the damages in the case? Or is it substantially short? Is there a possibility of obtaining full and fair compensation for personal injury through further negotiations?
- Analyze them carefully: Evaluate the proposed compensation amounts for the various losses. Think about the taxes owed on any deal and the increased costs down the road that could drain a deal faster. The breakdown of these figures can begin to show whether or where the offers have fallen short.
- Question the offers: Don’t expect initial personal injury settlement offers to be fair or adequate out of the box. They are commonly undervalued by bidders because insurance companies and other defendants generally seek to pay as little as possible to settle claims. So, think of initial offers as a starting point.
- Negotiate: Clearance offers don’t get bigger without a push. When the offers may be close but not quite ideal, trying to negotiate can be a viable way to get the offers to where they should be. If the opposing party is unwilling to negotiate a low settlement offer, going to trial may become a better option.
How long a trial can extend your case
How long are you willing or can you wait for your personal injury case to be resolved? Can you wait the months or years it may take to get your claim through the courts?
A major benefit of settling personal injury claims, rather than taking cases to court, can be faster resolutions. Going to trial means that you and your case will be at the mercy of the court’s busy schedule. Depending on the complexity of your case, a trial could involve an in-depth discovery, along with multiple motions and hearings, all before opening statements are even made.
This wait can be expensive. When personal injury claims go to trial, the costs of preparing and litigating cases increase. Consequently, the possibility of cases costing more time and money when going to trial is an important factor to consider when evaluating settlement offers versus the alternative.
If you want your day in court
Is it important for you to present your case and evidence in court? Do you want your claim and allegations to be part of the public record? Do you expect a great sense of justice or emotional gratification when taking your personal injury claim to trial?
Some plaintiffs really want to have their day in court, no matter how big a settlement offer is or how long a trial is expected to take. Of course, this is 100% within the rights of any plaintiff, and having a day in court can be psychologically satisfying for some. It can also be extremely emotionally draining for others, especially when it is time to repeat the details of an accident and injury in court. Clearly, this is a very personal choice that each applicant will have to make for themselves.
The strength of your case against the risks of a trial
How strong is your case versus your opponent’s? What are your chances of winning at trial? Are you willing to take a chance?
Ultimately, litigating personal injury lawsuits always carries risks. You never know what a jury will do, and the trial court itself could present new obstacles in terms of admissible evidence, jury instructions, and more.
When considering a court battle, anticipating these unknowns and potential risks can give you a more realistic idea of what a trial would entail and what is at stake. That can be a heavy factor that can tip the balance toward a settlement when other factors also favor that resolution over judgment.