An important role that your lawyer plays in your personal injury claim case is that of advisor, especially when it comes to knowing when to pursue a trail versus when to settle out of court.
Even though going to court may be warranted in certain cases, if both sides cannot come to agreements on important details about the cases, only four to five percent of all personal injury cases ever go to trial.1
To determine with the help of your personal injury attorney whether you should settle your case pre-trial or hold out for a trail, you’ve got to know when to fold or know when to hold, just as it’s said in that famous song.
What Does It Mean to Settle An Injury Claim Out of Court?
Basically, settling a personal injury claim out of court means that you and your injury claims lawyer are able to come to an agreement with the other party and their lawyer about what happened, who is responsible, and what the payment for damages should be.
Most cases that go to trial do so for reasons that include not being able to establish fault, an inability to agree on the extent of damages and their monetary worth, the value of pain and suffering, and other factors that essentially equate to how much money someone might be awarded for their injuries.
Since skilled personal injury lawyers are often successful in negotiating these details to the benefit of their clients, approximately 95% of these cases do settle pre-trial.
Are There Benefits to Settling Out Of Court?
It is common that after much negotiating has taken place, the responsible party will make an offer to the injured party and their attorney for an out-of-court settlement.
In these cases, the question is whether the offer is sufficient considering the case details ;as well as what are the benefits of ending the injury claim without going to trial.
Before assuming any offer is not good enough, you and your injury claims lawyer should consider the benefits of settling rather than holding out for a trial:
- Faster - A trial case can take months or even years to settle, whereas settling out of court can happen much more quickly.
- Fewer Legal Expenses - The longer your case goes on, the more legal expenses you will incur until it settles, whereas when you settle pre-trial, there is fewer costs to be paid.
- Established Settlement Amount - You can settle with a certain award amount that both you and your injury claims attorney have carefully considered and agreed to accept.
- Moving On - If you settle out of court, you will get your agreed-upon award and can start moving past the accident and on with your life, including being able to pay for any treatment or rehabilitation you may still need.
What If Your Case Goes to Trial?
Going to trial can be better in some cases, but it’s important that you recognize that there is a definite risk involved in doing so.
Besides the fact that the case will then take longer to settle and you’ll continue paying legal fees, your personal injury lawyer would advise that you also run the risk that a judge or a jury is not going to see things the same as you and your attorney.
The settlement amount is unknown going into a trial and while experienced lawyers can estimate what they think a settlement may be, you could end up with significantly less than the pre-trial settlement offer.
When Is Settling Out of Court Is Preferred?
Not every personal injury case can be settled out of court.
When there are matters that must be decided through the court or details that parties and their attorneys simply cannot reach agreement about, a trial may be necessary to ensure that responsible parties are properly identified and a fair settlement is reached.
When there is a definite benefit to walking away with a guaranteed settlement award and the option of going to trial is riskier, settling pre-trial can definitely be the right choice.
Discuss the pros and cons with your attorney so you can come to the right decision for your circumstances and get a suitable award for your case!
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1The Law Dictionary Featuring Black's Law Online 2nd Edition Dictionary - Articles: Pre-trial Settlement Percentage: Statistics on Personal Injury Settlements