Will My Personal Injury Case Settle or Go To Trial?
When you suffer an injury in an accident, you may need to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to obtain the compensation you need. With the right personal injury lawyer on your team, you can typically get significantly more money for your accident and injuries. Your lawyer will work to negotiate the best possible settlement for you based on your injuries and the long-term effects of your accident. However, as the injured party, it is ultimately your call to accept a settlement or take your case to trial.
How Do You Know if You Are Making the Right Decision?
Your personal injury lawyer will guide you and support you throughout the legal process. Their education and experience will go a long way in helping you determine if the insurance company is offering you a fair settlement that will adequately cover your needs and expenses.
With the right attorney on your side, you can typically achieve a successful outcome by settling out of court. However, if the insurance company refuses to play fair or if your attorney believes you are not getting enough compensation for your injuries, you may have to go to trial.
What is a Settlement?
In simplest terms, a settlement is an agreement and the final resolution in a lawsuit or claim. When you believe the insurance company has made you a fair offer, you can accept this offer at any time. This essentially ends your case and your ability to collect future damages.
Timeline of a Settlement
- Your personal injury attorney will submit a demand letter. This demand letter includes the amount of money you believe you need to pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and future suffering.
- The defense attorney or the insurance company will review that letter.
- The defense attorney or insurance company will then make a counteroffer.
- Negotiations begin between the two parties.
- A settlement is reached, or the case proceeds to trial.
Common Reasons for Settlement
- The insurance company believes that your case will win at trial.
- You decide that the insurance company’s offer is sufficient.
- The insurance company realizes that settling is the cheaper route for them.
What are the Pros and Cons of Settling?
Pros of Settling
- You can get your money quicker. Settlements are often much faster than going to trial. On average, you can expect to reach a settlement within twelve months. A trial can take over a year to finish.
- Settlements cost less. Reaching a settlement is significantly cheaper than the cost of going to trial. However, when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the table, you may need to reconsider.
- You remain in control. You can decide how long to negotiate and when to accept a settlement. Your injury attorney can advise you through this process, but ultimately, you are in control.
Cons of Settling
- You may receive less money. When you reach a settlement, you might not get all the money you could have gotten if you went to court.
- You cannot renegotiate. A settlement is permanent. Even if your injuries suddenly worsen, you cannot renegotiate another deal.
What Is a Trial?
When a personal injury case cannot reach a settlement, both parties must take the case to court. A judge and/or jury will determine who wins the case and how much compensation they receive if any.
Going to trial is unpredictable, so your personal injury attorney must feel confident that your case will win before proceeding. Your case will likely go to trial if you and your attorney believe that the insurance company is not offering you an adequate settlement.
Timeline of a Trial
In general, there are six steps to a trial:
- Gathering a jury
- Giving opening statements
- Witness testimony and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury instructions and deliberation
- Jury verdict
This is just the timeline of the actual trial. The preparation for a trial can take months of work and case-building. Going to trial is costly and time consuming for both parties.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Going to Trial?
Pros of Going to Trial
- You may receive more money. Trial awards are often significantly higher than settlements. A jury may even include more money than you were initially offered for pain and suffering. This is one benefit of going to trial.
- You get to feel a sense of justice. Many people feel wronged by the at-fault party. When their insurance company makes a lowball settlement if can be even more frustrating. A trial award can bring about a much-needed sense of closure and justice.
Cons of Going to Trial
- It can be costly and time-consuming. A trial is often long, which means you will not see an award for months or even years as the trial continues. You might have spend a lot of money to take a case to trial.
- You could lose. It is possible to spend time and money taking a case to trial only for it to lose. There is a risk that the judge or jury may side with the other party, or they may offer you an award that is far less than you wanted.
Should I Accept My Settlement Offer or Go to Trial?
When deciding to accept a settlement offer or go to trial, you and your personal injury attorney must examine many factors. Your injury attorney has likely negotiated and litigated hundreds of cases. They can offer their opinion regarding your chances of success in court. They can also advise you of whether the insurance company has made a fair offer.
Each case is different. However, some factors that may influence your decision to accept a settlement or head to trial include:
- Severity of the injuries you suffered
- Long-term disabilities
- Future medical expenses
- Cost of treatment
- Lost wages and future earnings.
- Your age and family situation
- Property damage expenses
- How egregious the defendant’s actions were
- Pain and suffering you experienced or will continue to experience
- Jurisdiction and precedent
Why You Should Hire Our Personal Injury Attorneys
A Rainwater, Holt & Sexton personal injury attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit and walk you through every step of your case, from the discovery stage to the potential trial. Likewise, we can help you present your claim to the insurance company before filing a suit in a manner that will maximize your recovery. The more we know about your case, the better — so you should reach out to our experienced and professional team as soon as possible. Whether you’re filing a lawsuit because your claim has been denied, you were offered an unfair settlement, or for another reason, our team at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton will get you the recovery you deserve.