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 no other option but 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 insurance company or defense attorney will then make a counteroffer.
- Negotiations begin between the two parties.
- A settlement is reached, or the case proceeds to trial.
Your case may settle before trial for many reasons.
- The insurance company may believe that your case will win if it proceeds to trial
- You may believe that the insurance company’s offer is sufficient for your suffering
- The insurance company may realize 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 six 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 when to accept a settlement and how long to negotiate. Your injury attorney can advise you through this process, but ultimately, you are in control.
Cons of Settling
- May receive less money. When you reach a settlement, you may not get all the money you could have gotten if you went to court.
- You cannot obtain more money. 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 make the ultimate determination on who wins the case and the compensation amount.
Going to trial is unpredictable, and your personal injury attorney must feel strongly 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. This is why 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
- May receive more money. Trial awards are often significantly higher than settlements. A jury may even include more money for pain and suffering than you initially offered. This is one benefit of going to trial.
- Sense of justice. Many people feel wronged by the at-fault party. When their insurance company makes a low-ball settlement, they can feel even more wronged. 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 can 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.
What Factors Influence a Settlement Offer or a Decision to Reject a Settlement and 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 typically 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
- Income lost
- 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 precedence
Why You Should Hire Our Personal Injury Attorneys
A Rainwater, Holt & Sexton personal injury attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit and see you through the discovery stage of your case to trial. Likewise, they can help you present your claim to the insurance company before filing a suit in a manner that will maximize your recovery. The more familiar we are with your case from the start, the better we can help prepare your case for a personal injury lawsuit if that becomes necessary. Even if you have to file a lawsuit because your claim has been denied or because you are not offered a fair settlement, most cases still settle after filing suit, without ever having to go to court.