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When to Settle vs. Go to Trial After a Personal Injury

— May 8, 2024

Ultimately, the decision of whether to settle or go to trial is a personal one.

The aftermath of a personal injury accident can be a whirlwind of emotions, medical bills, and lost wages. On top of recovering from your injuries, you’re faced with a complex decision: settle your claim with the insurance company or take your case to trial. This article will guide you through the key factors to consider when deciding whether to settle or go to trial.

Understanding Personal Injury Settlements

A settlement in an injury case occurs when you, the injured party, reach an agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance company for a specific sum of money to compensate you for your injuries. This agreement resolves your claim outside of court.

Benefits of Settling Your Personal Injury Case

Settlements offer several advantages. They typically resolve injury cases much faster than going to trial, which can take months or even years. This can be a significant benefit if you’re facing financial hardship due to medical bills and lost wages. Additionally, settlements reduce stress and uncertainty. The legal process can be stressful and unpredictable. Settling allows you to move on with your life, knowing exactly how much compensation you’ll receive. Settlements also offer predictability of outcome – the settlement amount is guaranteed, eliminating the risk of a lower award or even losing the case entirely at trial. Finally, settlements are confidential, allowing you to maintain privacy that wouldn’t be possible in a public court proceeding.

Considerations Before Settling

Before settling your injury case, you need to weigh several factors. The severity of your injuries plays a crucial role. For minor injuries with minimal long-term impact, a settlement might be suitable. However, for more serious injuries that require extensive medical care and have the potential for long-term disabilities, a larger settlement or trial outcome might be necessary.

The strength of your case is also important. If your attorney believes you have a strong case with clear evidence of liability and damages, the injury lawyer may advise against settling for a low offer from the insurance company. Finally, consider your future medical needs. The settlement offer should cover all anticipated medical expenses related to your injury.

Taking Your Personal Injury Case to Trial

If you choose not to settle, your personal injury case will go to trial. During a personal injury trial, your attorney will present evidence to prove the other party’s negligence caused your injury and the extent of your damages. The defendant’s attorney will attempt to refute your claims or argue for a lower damage award. Ultimately, a jury will listen to both sides of the argument, deliberate, and reach a verdict.

Benefits of Going to Trial

While there’s no guarantee, a jury verdict at trial could result in a significantly higher compensation amount compared to an initial settlement offer from the insurance company. Additionally, going to trial can hold the defendant accountable for their actions and deter similar behavior in the future.

Considerations Before Going to Trial

The decision to go to trial shouldn’t be taken lightly. Trials are lengthy and require significant time commitment from you and your attorney. Be prepared to dedicate time to preparing your case and attending court dates. Additionally, trials come with financial risks. While you are not typically responsible for court costs if you lose the case, you may be responsible for the defendant’s legal fees in some instances.

The emotional toll of a trial is another factor to consider. The trial process can be emotionally draining as your case is scrutinized in the public forum. Also, there’s no guarantee you will win at trial. The jury’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.

The Role of Your Personal Injury Attorney

Lawyer having coffee while at laptop; image by Mateus Campos Felipe, via
Image by Mateus Campos Felipe, via

An experienced personal injury attorney can be your trusted guide throughout the decision-making process. The lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and advise you on the best course of action, whether it’s pursuing a settlement or taking your case to trial.

Your attorney will:

  • Investigate the accident: Gather evidence, including police reports, medical records, witness testimonies, and accident scene photos to build a strong case.
  • Calculate your damages: Determine the total compensation you should receive for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future losses.
  • Negotiate with the insurance company: Work to secure the highest possible settlement offer on your behalf.
  • Represent you in court: If necessary, your attorney will advocate for you in court and present your case to the jury.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to settle or go to trial is a personal one. By carefully considering the factors discussed, and working closely with your injury attorney, you can make an informed decision about what is best for you and your family.

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