The vast majority of personal injury cases are usually settled out of court. Even though it is unlikely that your case will go to trial, it is good to know your options at any given time. Sometimes settling might not be in your best interest. Your personal injury attorney should be able to advise you on the right thing to do after analyzing your case. That is why you should hire an attorney with vast experience so that you know your options when involved in a personal injury case. You could be asking yourself a lot of questions, such as, “I just got rear-ended. Should I get a Personal Injury Lawyer?” Before you can decide to settle or go to trial, you should know when to go for each of the two options.
How to Know When it is Better to Settle Or Go to Trial
In most instances, a thoroughly vetted settlement will be the best solution for a legal claim. This is because the settlement will end the conflict instead of the case dragging on in court for months. You’re also guaranteed the money being offered, which will not happen if the case goes to trial. It is possible that you could end up with nothing in return after going through the lengthy litigation process.
In case you’re not paid after agreeing on the settlement, you will have every right to go to trial. It should be noted that there are no guarantees that you will receive money from the defendant immediately even if the case is decided in your favor. A good example is the case of O.J Simpson. In a historic ruling, he was successfully sued in a multi-million dollar court case, but he’s yet to pay the amount years later. There are some disadvantages to settling which will make it worth your while to go to trial. You forfeit the right to go to trial when you decide to settle the matter out of court. Here are some of the factors you should have in mind when choosing between settling and going to trial.
Assessing the Value of the Claim
It can be a complicated decision to settle or go to trial. You must take several factors into consideration. The most important question you’ll have to answer is how much is the case worth? Once you’ve determined the worth of the case, you can weigh the options of either going to trial or settling on what has been offered.
The only way you can truly know the value of the claim is by consulting with a personal injury attorney. In adding up medical bills and other expenses that came about as a result of the injury, there could be some costs that you skipped over, which a good attorney will point out. They will ensure that every possible expense is being included in the final compensation for the injury claim. A good personal injury will evaluate your claim and determine the compensation that you can get.
Getting a Good Settlement Offer
After knowing how much the settlement is worth, the next step will be to decide on the offer. Your attorney should also be able to guide you through this process. There are those who are of the opinion that a good offer means that both parties will walk away from the final settlement a little unhappy. The liability factor could mean that you have to accept a lower offer than originally anticipated.
If the defendant is at fully at fault, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. You might not get the full settlement when you’re partially blamed for the accident. If the plaintiff is 20% at fault, a good settlement offer will be close to 80% of the damages.
When Should You Consult an Attorney?
A settlement is always the best option in a personal injury case but that doesn’t mean you should settle for just any other offer. Finding a good lawyer will ensure that you’re getting maximum compensation for the injuries.
Advantages of Settling a Personal Injury Case
As they say, litigation is expensive and a settlement doesn’t have to be. A common arrangement is that an attorney will receive around 33% of the final settlement. Most attorneys will work on a contingency basis. The defendant will hire an attorney and will pay an hourly rate. The earlier you settle a case, the less expensive the process is.
Trials are Stressful
You’ve probably never gone through a trial before and you will not know what to expect from the process. A trial can be extremely stressful for both parties involved. You could be subjected to cross-examination which can be an intense experience. The weeks before the trial can also be expensive and labor-intensive for the plaintiff and the attorney.
Liability Unpredictable at Trial
There are no guarantees that you will get the compensation that you’re looking for when the case goes to trial. Trials are known to be notoriously unpredictable. Even the most obvious case could turn around completely. The eyewitnesses that you might have thought will help with the case could come off as unreliable, or not give a good testimony.
Trials Can Take Years
Keep in mind, your case could take years before it is finalized in trial. Even if you manage to win the case, getting paid will be another challenge altogether. The defendant could prolong the case by appealing the outcome.
They could do so in order to buy time and there is nothing you can do to influence the court’s decision. It is not uncommon for a simple injury case to take up to four years before the determination is made. With a settlement, you will know exactly how much you will get. A date can be set so that you’re guaranteed to receive the money.
Trials are not Private
You can forget about privacy the moment the case goes to trial. It is very rare for the judge to order for all records to be sealed. All the witness testimonies and anything else that could make you look bad will be available for the public to scrutinize.