Why Settling Out of Court May Be Better Than Going to Trial
In many cases, accepting a settlement has several advantages over taking a personal injury claim to trial.
The decision to either accept a settlement or go to trial is a highly personal one, but understanding the advantages of both can help you make a more informed decision about your case.
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, one of your biggest worries might be what will happen when your case goes to trial. The thought of testifying in open court is likely terrifying, particularly when the subject is one of the most traumatic events of your life. Yet the reality of the legal world is that the vast majority (97%) of civil lawsuits settle prior to trial. The decision to settle is often a practical one, as trial can often be a quite expensive and lengthy process.
Of course, every case is different, and what might be right for one person might be completely wrong for another. It’s important to discuss both options with your attorney, as there are several important factors that should go into your decision.
Never Attempt to Settle Your Own Case
Perhaps the most important aspect of this article is this warning: do not attempt to settle your personal injury case without an attorney. While insurance companies will often offer what may seem like a fair amount, it is usually just a fraction of your case’s true value. An experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer can help you determine how much your case is actually worth, and fight for every penny you truly deserve.
After you are injured in an accident, you will most likely be stressed and overwhelmed. You will be dealing with doctor’s appointments, hospitals, medical bills, and may even be on leave from work as you recover. On top of that, you will likely be getting calls from the adjuster, asking you questions about what happened and the extent of your injuries. When you are at this relatively low point — hurt, confused, and just trying to get your life back on track — the insurance company will attempt to strong-arm you into accepting a low-ball offer. This is a time when you need a fierce advocate to ensure that you get the money that you deserve for your injuries.
A personal injury lawyer will use his or her experience handling cases like yours to negotiate a fair settlement that will cover the cost of your past and future medical expenses, as well as compensate you for other damages such as your pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Remember that the insurance company’s goal is not to make sure that you get compensated fairly — it’s quite the opposite; to minimize their own financial liability. In contrast, most Dallas personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. They only get paid if you recover compensation, which gives them an incentive to make sure that you get the best possible chance at a successful claim.
Advantages of Settling Over Going to Court
Now that you understand why it is so important to have an attorney on your side, the next step is figuring out if it makes sense to settle or not. There are several key benefits of settling outside of court rather than taking a case to trial.
- First, settling gives you a certain outcome. If you go to trial, there is no way to predict what a judge or jury will do. They may find against you entirely, or if they rule in your favor, they could award you significantly less money than you anticipated. While having certainty isn’t everything, it may be an important factor, particularly if you want to move forward with your life.
- Second, choosing to settle is often a much quicker process. A trial can take a very long time, while settling can be accomplished much more quickly (depending on how complex the negotiations are). If you need the settlement money sooner rather than later, this may be important to you.
- Third, settlements are generally kept private, while trials are public. If your privacy is important to you, an out-of-court settlement can help you maintain a level of secrecy about your case as you recover.
- Fourth, settling out of court can save you money. In contingency fee arrangements with personal injury lawyers, you are typically responsible for paying court costs and things like expert witness fees. Settling (as opposed to going to court) can sometimes save you a substantial amount of money, but it’s important to discuss this with your attorney.
For anyone who has been injured through the negligence of another person, understanding the benefits of settling out of court is important to making an informed decision about how to proceed. It is also critical to have a top-notch personal injury lawyer to help guide you through the process and look after your best interests.