Is it Better to Settle or Go to Trial?
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Determine Next Steps in Your Case
During the course of your lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer will discuss your options for settling your case or going to trial. A well-negotiated settlement can leave you financially secure while ending your lawsuit quickly but runs the risk of undervaluing your claim. On the other hand, a winning verdict at trial can bring you the compensation you deserve for your injuries, but at the cost of a lengthy and overwhelming court battle.
Your personal injury lawyer for your accident lawsuit is unique. That is why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer with negotiation skills, a track record of winning verdicts, and a history of reaching bold settlement agreements to help you decide on the best path forward. There are pros and cons to both settling a personal injury case and going to trial. A professional lawsuit attorney can help you make the right decision.
You need an experienced trial lawyer who can assist you with placing a fair value on your injury claim.
Television, movies, and streaming channels would have most people believe that trials are bold, dramatic affairs where attorneys use a combination of skillful oratory and their wits to break down opposing witnesses on the stand. In reality, a trial can be a long, costly, and stressful process which may keep you from receiving compensation for years. But with 2.8 million workplace injuries occurring in a single year, there are plenty of people going to trial.
Still, as your injury attorney will explain to you, there are benefits and disadvantages to settling your case and going to trial. Whether by judge or jury, a winning trial verdict can bring you a higher financial reward and, in some cases, help change public policy. But the process can take years, has no privacy guarantee, and the result is always uncertain.
On the other hand, settlement can bring you the compensation you deserve quickly, and many times with a guarantee of confidentiality and finality to the process — parties can sign paperwork agreeing not to pursue further litigation. However, a settlement isn’t always the best path, especially if the other party is unreasonable.
Is it better to settle your case or go to trial? Only your personal injury lawyer can help you answer that question. Your accident lawsuit is unique — one-of-a-kind — and your trial attorney will take you through the pros and cons of your claim to help you make the best decision.
How to Decide if Settling Your Case is the Best Decision
When you or a loved one suffers from a personal injury, in a car, at work, or anywhere else, deciding between settling your case and going to trial is probably the furthest thing from your mind. You’re worried about feeling better first and foremost and about the medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages you may be facing. Sure, you need a personal injury lawyer who will fight for you, but you also need one who understands that this moment is overwhelming.
Too often, lawyers in personal injury cases will negotiate a quick settlement without consulting their client, which should be a red flag for anyone. Because a real settlement is a conversation that starts with the client before moving onto the other party. Officially, a settlement is a formal resolution of a personal injury lawsuit — or any lawsuit — that can be reached at any stage of the litigation process.
Your injury lawyer can attempt to settle before filing your accident case, the day before you go to trial, or on the day of your trial. Although no two negotiations are the same, most settlement processes will involve your litigation attorney sending a demand letter to the other party, which will include:
- A request for damages (settlement amount)
- Legal arguments in support of your request
- Supporting evidence (medical bills, estimates of lost wages)
The opposing party’s trial attorney will respond to the demand, usually with a counteroffer. Negotiations will then begin in earnest between both lawyers and sometimes an insurance company, with the goal being to maximize compensation for your injuries. Your injury lawyer will handle all email, phone calls, and mail correspondence and file a motion with the court to enforce the eventual settlement if necessary.
Unlike Hollywood spectacles that end with superstar actors yelling, “you can’t handle the truth,” most trials take a decidedly straightforward approach. If your lawsuit attorney decides the best course of action isn’t to settle, you will have either a judge or jury trial. A trial involves several phases, including opening arguments, witness testimony and cross-examination, and closing arguments, and could be even longer if it consists of a jury.
It’s an oft-cited statistic that only 5 percent of personal injury and accident cases in the United States end up going to trial. But more recent studies show that number is about 25 – 30%, with around 66% of personal injury cases settling in pretrial.
Calculate the Value of Your Accident Claim
Your injury lawyer can’t help you decide between settling your case and going to trial until you know the total value of your accident claim. That is why it is important to calculate the full value of your personal injury claim before making any hasty decisions.
No matter which type of personal injury you or your loved ones happen upon, whether it is a bus accident, a truck accident, an Uber accident, or something else, you need to understand the various types of damages available to you. The compensation that you deserve falls under economic or special damages and non-economic or general damages. Both are extremely important.
Your trial attorney will tell you that special damages are easy to calculate. Such compensation includes medical bills and other easily quantifiable damages for which you can attach a monetary value. However, general damages, including emotional distress, pain, and suffering, are a bit more challenging.
The good news is that most insurance companies do have ways to calculate these losses. And while it is never easy to discuss such difficult things in a cold and detached way — after all, pain and emotional distress can leave lifelong scars — you still deserve compensation. You can either use the multiplier method, which adds up all of your special damages and multiplies them by a number between 1.5 and 5 depending on the severity of your injuries and other factors, or the per diem method, which is a demand for a specific dollar amount for every day you have to live in pain because of your accident.
Understanding your claim’s value can help you be better prepared as you decide whether to settle your personal injury case or go to trial.
Pros and Cons of Settling Your Personal Injury Case and Going to Trial
An experienced accident attorney understands that your personal injury case is unique and unlike any other. Your reasons for settling or going to trial are different from someone else’s. However, both options have their pros and cons and should be discussed at length with your injury lawyer and trial attorney so you understand the benefits and disadvantages of each.
While the statistics might be skewed, it is very common for injury cases to be settled before ever reaching trial. A settlement process involves gathering information and reviewing the evidence, including witness testimony, medical reports, possible video and photographic evidence, and more. It is difficult to say how long the process can take from the demand letter until you receive a check, but it is a much more expedited timeline than taking the route of a trial.
The benefits or pros of choosing to settle your personal injury case include:
- A faster, more cost-efficient process. Your litigation can end within a few months if you settle out of court, and it is much less stressful.
- A guaranteed outcome. Going to trial means there is no certainty you will win, but when you settle, you are guaranteed compensation for your injuries.
- More control. You and your injury lawyer are free to negotiate and reject settlement offers. At trial, you have to accept the judge or jury’s decision.
- Confidentiality, satisfaction, and finality. A settlement can include a confidentiality agreement, usually comes with more satisfaction, and can include a clause not to pursue further litigation.
But settlements do have downsides as well. Some of the disadvantages of settlements include:
- Less money. There is always a chance of receiving less money than if you took the case to trial.
- A settlement is permanent. If you sign a clause not to pursue further litigation and your injuries worsen, you may be out of luck.
- Confidentiality. While confidentiality can be a good thing in many cases, it may not benefit you if you want the public to know about your case. Moreover, the other party may not have to admit guilt or any wrongdoing.
Of course, you may sit down with your trial lawyer and decide that the best path forward is not to settle but to take your personal injury case to trial. Going to trial has several benefits, including:
- The potential for more compensation. A jury may decide to give you the maximum amount for your emotional distress, which won’t happen when you settle.
- Public accountability. Trials are part of the public record, meaning if you win your case, you will not only receive compensation but hold the other party accountable in view of the public.
- A sense of justice. Winning a judge or jury verdict can give you a better feeling that justice was served.
- Closure. Many times, going through a trial can give you a better sense of closure after suffering from an injury.
Still, a trial can be a high-risk, high-reward scenario, one that can feel very stressful and overwhelming. Taking your case to trial has a few disadvantages as well, including:
- A long, drawn-out, costly process. Unlike settling, which can be quick, a trial can take well over a year, cost a significant amount of money, and be extremely stressful.
- Uncertainty. A trial comes with no guarantee of compensation for your injuries, no matter how much you truly deserve it. There is always a risk that a judge or jury will not find in your favor.
- Loss of Privacy. A public trial means that you are put on trial in front of the public too. As all trial records are open to the public, you will have no right to confidentiality.
- Additional Emotional Distress. A trial is not easy and requires you to relive difficult parts of your life. It can cause you further emotional distress on top of what you are already struggling with from your injuries.
Many people will ask their personal injury attorney if settling their case is better than going to trial or vice-versa, but that is the wrong question to ask. Neither option is better than the other, as each one has its pros and cons. Which one is right for you depends on the specifics of your case.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You Determine if You Should Settle Your Case or Go to Trial
You need an experienced personal injury attorney and a skilled negotiator to walk you through your accident case. Because your case is unique, only your trial lawyer can help you determine whether you should settle or go to trial. To ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve, you need an accident attorney with a reputation for reaching record-breaking settlements who’s not afraid to take your case to trial.
You need the attorneys at Munley Law, who have won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We have over 60 years of experience as negotiators and trial attorneys and have built a national reputation as leaders in personal injury law. When you or a loved one are injured in any kind of accident, the attorneys at Munley Law will sit down with you and discuss all of your options, from settlement to trial, to help you receive the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve.
At Munley Law, we believe that cost should not stand in the way of justice for the injured. Therefore, we do not collect a fee for our services unless we recover benefits for you. As our client, you will not have to pay anything up front or out of your pocket.
Chat, email, or call us today to arrange a free consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer at Munley Law.
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