Why Do Most Personal Injury Cases Settle?
Will my personal injury case settle?
Although popular television shows and movies give the illusion that every legal case culminates with a dramatic trial, the reality is that over 95% of all cases and almost 96% of personal injury cases settle out of court. While many personal injury plaintiffs are eager for an opportunity to have their day in court so that they can tell their story to a judge and jury, it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of both trials and settlements.
Master negotiators, experienced trial lawyers
It is also important that victims of catastrophic accidents choose a legal team that understands these nuances and knows how to negotiate with hospitals, businesses, and insurance companies in order to maximize their clients’ winnings. Time and time again, the experienced Personal Injury Team at Munley Law win millions for our clients because we understand how to negotiate our clients’ claims to get them what they deserve.
Because most personal injury claims settle out of court, many personal injury lawyers do not have extensive trial experience. That can leave their clients at a major disadvantage. When choosing a personal injury lawyer, you want an attorney who can negotiate the maximum settlement AND who is ready to take your case to trial if the other party won’t agree to what you deserve.
At Munley Law, our legal team includes board-certified trial lawyers with extensive courtroom experience and a long record of reaching maximum settlements outside of court.
What Factors Influence Whether a Personal Injury Case Will Go to Trial or Settle?
At Munley Law, we understand that every case and every victim is different, and we always work with our clients to chart the best path for success on an individual basis. While there are no hard-and-fast-rules for determining which cases should settle and which cases should go to trial, there are general principles that serve as helpful guideposts.
- How Simple or Complex Are the Victim’s Injuries? Some accident victims suffer relatively common minor injuries that can easily be understood and evaluated by all parties to a lawsuit without the need for expert testimony, testing, and extensive discovery. Attorneys on both sides are therefore more likely to generally agree on how to calculate the damages and can negotiate from that point. For highly complicated and unusual injuries, a lot more information may be needed, and even experienced lawyers are more likely to disagree about how to calculate damages. That is why these cases more frequently are tried before a jury.
- How Much Money Is at Stake? When a personal injury plaintiff has good reason to believe that the claim is worth a substantial amount, but the defendant is unwilling to settle for that amount, the case is more likely to go to trial.
- How Willing Is the Defendant to Settle? In some instances, defendants to a lawsuit believe it is not in their benefit to settle a case. They may feel that settling would be akin to admitting fault and consequently bad for their public relations. They may worry that settling one case will encourage too many other plaintiffs to bring similar lawsuits. They may think that they have a genuine chance at winning the case. When defendants take a stand against settling for any of these reasons, plaintiffs must prepare for trial.
What Are the Benefits of Settling a Personal Injury Case?
Whether to accept a settlement or whether to bring a case to trial is always the client’s decision. Because less than 5% of cases go to trial, it is useful to understand the benefits of settlement, such as:
- Settlement Guarantees an Award: Trials are unpredictable. A personal injury plaintiff who takes their case to trial must remember that there is always a chance that they will lose their case and get $0. By settling their cases victims guarantee that they will be compensated for their losses.
- Settlement Lowers Legal Costs: Although many plaintiffs’ lawyers are paid through “contingency fees” by which the lawyer is paid a percentage of the overall award, this amount does not account for the costs of litigation. Trials, which require witnesses, evidence, experts, and other materials to help communicate information to a jury, are much more expensive than the costs associated with settling a case.
- Settlements Are Less Stressful: Trials are tense. They require immense preparation, cooperation, and anticipation of what the other party will do. Trials require personal injury victims to spend long days sitting in the court room with their attorney. Victims can expect to be required to testify and then to be interrogated during cross-examination by the other side’s lawyers. Any little mistake or omission can impact a jury’s award or cause the jury to find for the other party altogether. While settlements still require careful planning and strategy, it is easier to maintain control, affect the outcome, and avoid putting any additional stress on the injured plaintiff (or their family) who has already been through an ordeal.
- Settlements Can Maintain Privacy: Privacy is often important for personal injury plaintiffs. There may be certain evidence, statements, or photos that accident victims do not wish certain people, such as family members, employers, or the press, to easily be able to access. By law, trials must be open to the public. By contrast, when cases settle out of court, it is possible to keep the settlement details private, aside from the settlement amount. Thus, settlements are often the preferred options for plaintiffs who value privacy.
- Settlements Are Almost Certain to Be Final: Except for a few very rare exceptions, settlements cannot be reversed. A settlement is the final stage of the case. Trial decisions, in contrast, are subject to post-verdict motions and appeals. These post-trial phases can take years to resolve, and defendants can avoid paying during that time.
If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic accident, contact the experienced Personal Injury Team at Munley Law for a free consultation today! For more than 60 years, our lawyers have fought to win millions for victims in courts and settlement negotiations alike. We will take the time to understand your injuries and your case in order to devise the best plan to win big for you.
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