One of the most common questions asked by those involved in a personal injury case is whether the case will go to trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved through settlements rather than a trial. According to recent US Government statistics, about 5 per cent of personal injury cases go to trial. The other 95 per cent are settled pretrial.
Many people involved in these cases are understandably concerned about whether their case will proceed to trial, what the pros and cons might be for a trial, compared to a pre-trial settlement, and a variety of other questions that concern them.
The first thing they must do, of course, is to appoint legal counsel experienced in handling the sort of injury claim they are concerned with, be it car accident, product defect, medical malpractice or some other injury. You need to be eligible to claim compensation for your injuries or damages.
They must then comply with the filing of the claim. In Arizona, for instance, there is a one year time limitation on filing.
Not all personal injury cases go to trial, as many defendants choose to accept a settlement rather than go to court.
Why Might My Case Settle Before Trial?
There are different reasons that might make your case one that settles prior to trial. For instance, the insurance company representing the defendant will do its own research and may believe that your case is strong and therefore be inclined to offer a settlement, which can result in (perhaps) a lower payout that a trial may provide as well as avoiding costs and expenses associated with a trial.
Your own lawyer may suggest a settlement figure that the defendant is inclined to accept – once again, to avoid the uncertainties and expenses related to going to trial. The settlement figure may also be one that falls within the parameters of the insurers’ experience for such claims and is fair and reasonable.
Pre-Trial Settlement Offer vs. Decision to Reject a Settlement and Go to Trial
Some factors may influence if your case settles before trial or goes to trial. Sure, it is preferable for both parties to settle prior to trial, as they will reduce their legal and court costs as well as the time-consuming involvement in trials.
Obviously with trials there is no 100 per cent guarantee of success.
Depending on the cost of treatment, the extent of the injuries suffered, future medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, client’s income, jurisdiction, community norms, and the like, your personal injury attorney should calculate the total damages and analyze if you receive fair compensation from the insurance company.
Alternatively, your attorney can build a strong case and take it to trial.
But as each case is different, there are pros and cons to settling or going to trial. At a trial, you may end up winning more compensation for your injuries than the defendant’s insurance company has offered you at a pre-trial settlement.
If you go to trial; there is still a small chance you could lose and receive less than the defendant’s settlement offer or get nothing. There are no sure things when it comes to a trial.
It is worth keeping in mind the fact that a settlement offer can be worth a great deal more than a (greater) trial verdict because of the expenses, time and court costs that will come off the top of the verdict amount. Expert witnesses, research, preparation, travel and all the other expenses mean trials are extremely expensive so a pre-trial settlement may make a great deal of sense.
Factors Influencing Pre-Trial Settlement
A variety of factors will influence whether you should settle or not, including some of the following –
- The nature of the injuries you have suffered and their extent
- Loss of income and future medical and related expenses
- Cost of the medical and related treatment
- Affect upon income-earning capacity, as well as lost income, reduced earnings capacity etc
- Any property damage that has also been sustained
- Age, family and personal circumstances
- The related cases, jurisdiction issues and other factors.
Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
An insurance company may try to settle a claim as fast as possible and offer you the lowest amount of compensation possible for your injuries. By hiring a top-rated personal injury attorney, you will significantly increase your chances of obtaining a fair settlement.
The attorney’s main goal is to help you get back on your feet by building a strong case on your behalf. A personal injury attorney will investigate your accident, assess your injuries and how they affected your life, gather information that will help your claim, collect police or accident reports, and will fight the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Wattel & York recommends that you hire a personal injury lawyer to give you the best odds of getting the compensation you deserve.