A personal injury claim can be resolved through settlement or trial. Most cases resolve through settlement. Proceeding to a personal injury trial is like playing with a joker in the deck because the level of uncertainty is high. In either case, however, your odds of generous compensation are better if you retain an experienced personal injury lawyer. Stracci Law Group, headquartered in Crown Point, Indiana, handles personal injury claims of every variety.
What Is a Settlement?
Personal injury settlements are codified in written agreements. Once you sign one, you can no longer contest the validity of the amount. The only remaining issue is whether the defendant will pay the claim. If not, you can use the settlement agreement to file a contract lawsuit. Although the Internet abounds with personal injury settlement examples, your best bet is to ask your lawyer to draft a settlement agreement for you.
Timeline of a Settlement
Settling personal injury claims is more of an art than a science. Settlement proceeds through the following stages:
- Your lawyer sends a demand letter.
- The defendant or the insurance company reviews the demand letter.
- The defendant or the insurance company sends a counteroffer to the claimant.
- Both parties commence negotiations.
- The parties either reach an agreement or go to trial.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Settling?
Settlement is not right for everyone. Following is a description of some of the pros and cons.
Pros of Settling
Some of the primary advantages of settling your claim include:
- You will probably receive your money more quickly.
- Your expenses (court costs and legal fees) will be lower.
- Risks are more manageable during settlement than at trial.
Cons of Settling
The main “con” of settling is that the opposing party might never pay a fair settlement unless they are forced to. When you rely on reaching an agreement, you are limited by the maximum amount the opposing party will agree to pay. Sometimes only a trial can get you the amount you need.
Reasons Your Case May Settle Before Trial
Many of our clients want to know, “Do most personal injury cases settle out of court?” The answer to this question is an unequivocal “yes.” Most do, but not all do. The reasons for this are many, including:
- The opposing party might fear you will win in court (especially if you retain us as your attorneys);
- You might be satisfied with the opposing party’s settlement offer; and
- The amount in dispute is small compared to the cost of litigation.
The best way to stay out of court is to choose an attorney with a successful track record at trial.
What Is a Trial?
In a trial, a judge and jury impose a solution to the parties’ dispute, whether they like it or not. Both sides have the opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, and tell their side of the story.
Personal injury cases that go to trial represent a small minority of all personal injury claims. Indeed, the US government estimates that the percentage of personal injury cases that go to trial amounts to about 3%.
Timeline of a Trial
Personal injury trial procedure involves 6 basic steps:
- Selecting and empaneling the jury (in the event of a jury trial),
- Opening statements,
- Witness testimony, examination, and cross-examination;
- Closing arguments;
- Jury deliberations; and
- Final verdict.
Pretrial preparation is typically far more extensive than the trial itself.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Going to Trial?
The pros and cons of going to trial complement the pros and cons of settling.
Pros of Going to Trial
Some of the pros of going to trial include:
- You could end up with more money. Some juries will award far more than any defendant would ever agree to.
- A verdict in a public trial can bring you a sense of closure and catharsis when the unanswered questions are finally resolved. That is one of the purposes of having a trial.
Cons of Going to Trial
Some of the cons of going to trial include:
- The cost in time and money is typically greater than for settlement. Your verdict could be delayed for months, or even years.
- You might lose the case. Even if you don’t, you can’t be sure whether you are going to win until the verdict is issued.
Reasons Your Case May Go to Trial
Do personal injury cases go to trial? Not most of the time, but there are no guarantees. Following are some of the many reasons that personal injury claims go all the way to trial:
- Both sides are confident they can win at trial;
- The defendant is too stubborn to issue a serious settlement offer;
- One or both parties stand on principle and demand a trial despite its strategic and tactical disadvantages.
What Factors Influence a Settlement Offer or a Decision to Reject a Settlement and Go to Trial?
When comparing settlement vs. trial, a trial typically offers greater rewards, but greater risk as well. Following are some of the components of a personal injury claim:
- The seriousness of your injuries;
- The amount of future medical expenses;
- The amount of pain you suffered;
- Whether the defendant’s conduct was outrageous;
- Community norms; and
- Your lost wages.
The greater the value of your claim, the less likely it is that the defendant will agree to pay. Our attorneys can use their hundreds of cases of experience to determine the true value of your claim.
Let Stracci Law Group Handle Your Personal Injury Claim
If you suffered a personal injury that someone else might be responsible for, fear not. Our legal team enjoys the benefit of nearly 80 years of combined experience. Opposing parties tend to settle with us rather than go to trial because they have learned that it’s best not to mess with us in court. We have settled a multitude of cases, and we won’t fall for any of the opposing party’s negotiating tricks.