Settlement vs. Trial: What Is Best for Your Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases remain one of the most routine legal actions in the United States. More often than not, personal injury claims are settled out of court. In fact, a mere 5% of personal injury claims make it all the way to trial, and for good reason.
After a car accident, slip and fall, or incident resulting in serious injury, it is common for victims to seek compensation for medical bills and expenses by way of an insurance claim or filing a civil lawsuit. However, it may be in the best interest of the victim to seek a settlement rather than endure a lengthy legal battle. We’ll go over the pros and cons of personal injury settlements and the possible benefits of taking your case all the way to trial.
The outcome of your case, and dollar amount of your settlement, will weigh heavily on how you proceed with your personal injury claim. Personal injury cases can get lengthy and have a host of contingencies. Regardless of whether you present your personal injury claim to a jury or you settle out of court, it is recommended that you come equipped with a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney to get the best resolution.
Personal Injury Compensation & Settlements
Determining what a personal injury case is worth can be difficult. Especially if multiple parties are involved or the case isn’t that cut-and-dried. Most personal injury claims come with significant medical bills and possible loss of wages due to recovery time. This is the primary reason why victims seek financial compensation, otherwise known as a settlement, to take care of often exorbitant expenses.
To simplify things, personal injury payouts can be lumped into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are defined as tangible and verifiable financial losses. Whereas non-economic damages are losses that can’t be quantified, meaning there is no way to put a dollar amount on it. The latter is typically harder to litigate and would benefit from being included in an out of court settlement, rather than taking it to trial.
It is important to be able to differentiate between the two arguments when you are deciding on whether or not to pursue your personal injury case in a court of law. Because of the nebulous nature of non-economic personal injury claims, they are monitored closely to ensure they do not become too excessive.
For example, in California, non-economic damages awarded are capped at $250,000 for medical malpractice cases. Conversely, the state of Texas has no known caps on non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Examples of Non-Economic Damages:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
- Loss of companionship
- Tarnished reputation
Examples of Economic Damages:
- Loss of wages or earnings
- Compensation for medical and hospital bills (past, present and future)
- Lost business opportunities
- Replacing or repairing damaged property such as a car or boat
Settlement vs. Trial
The two ways to be awarded financial compensation in a personal injury case are by settling out of court, or taking your case to trial. When it comes to settlement vs. trial, there are pros and cons to both. It is wise to carefully weigh your options, and it is always advised you contact a personal injury lawyer to put you in the most advantageous position.
There are a wide variety of incidents that fall under the personal injury umbrella. Cases can range from dog bites to rideshare accidents, all the way to defective products and wrongful death. The one constant in all personal injury cases is that someone else’s negligence is to blame for the injury, and that it can be proven.
Settlements occur when the negligent party agrees to compensate the victim, and the victim accepts the offer. When both the defendant and the plaintiff agree to the settlement, the plaintiff will sign a release stating no further damages will be pursued.
Personal injury settlements can be made at any time prior to filing a lawsuit, while the trial is underway, and even during a jury’s deliberation process. Ordinarily, settlements are reached before the claim ever makes it to trial. This is one reason why victims opt to push for settlements over jury trials. The payout is typically swift and the timeframe is much shorter. The alternative is taking your personal injury case all the way to trial, which can take far longer, cost much more, and if you lose, you could wind up getting no compensation at all.
Why Settlements Are Better Than Taking Your Case to Trial
Settlements account for about 95% of personal injury cases where the victim is pursuing a claim, making it the more popular strategy if you are injured by another’s negligence. Here are some common reasons why settlements are better than trials.
- You Don’t Walk Away Empty-Handed – As stated above, rolling the dice and taking your case all the way to a jury trial could result in you walking away with nothing. This is one of the most glaring reasons why reaching a settlement is better than going to trial. Accepting a settlement ensures you don’t walk away empty-handed, giving victims an opportunity to quickly pay off medical bills and back on a path to recovery.
- Better Use of Time – Personal injury trials can last a year or more. While the time spent in front of a jury last anywhere from 3-10 days, preparing for the case can take months. This discourages some victims from taking their case all the way to trial. Negotiations in personal injury settlements typically last about 6 weeks, and if everything goes as planned, delivery of funds will come shortly thereafter.
- The Expense – If you have been injured at no fault of your own, chances are you’ve already lost a considerable amount of money and time, not to mention the toll it takes on your personal and professional life. Legal fees also are a huge expense. Most personal injury lawyers will only take on cases that they know they can win. Therefore they don’t charge anything upfront for their services. That isn’t to say that the victim doesn’t have to give their layer a portion of their settlement once the case is closed. Settling your personal injury case out of court can help to make that percentage considerably lower.
- Settlements Are Private – Simply put, personal injury trials are public record. This isn’t the case with settlements. By settling your personal injury case you can choose to make the details of your case private. This could be especially important to those that wish to guard their personal information.
When Going to Trial Can Be to Your Advantage
Going the distance and taking your personal injury case to trial involves more than just attorneys. A trial requires the presence of a judge, jury, witnesses, and at times, expert testimony. The jury will then ultimately decide who is at fault and what damages, if any, will be awarded.
With all of the aforementioned risks and expenses that come with taking your personal injury claim to trial, depending on the severity and details of your case, it may actually be to your benefit to see it through.
- Larger Payout – If you do prevail and win your case, it may result in a much larger dollar amount. At the behest of the jury, the plaintiff will be given the ability to receive full compensation.
- Accountability – As stated above, trials are public record. For those that are seeking both compensation and vindication, this could be of value. Holding those accountable that brought harm upon you is important to some victims.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you are trying to decide whether or not to take your personal injury claim to court, it is best you contact a professional personal injury attorney to review your case and help you weigh your options. You will want to retain a lawyer that will take their time to go over every detail with you.
Your case is only as good as your representation. An experienced personal injury lawyer will understand how to negotiate with insurance companies and individuals to get you the best settlement possible. And if you do decide to see it all the way through and take it to trial, your attorney will be there to fight for what is right.
The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani is one of the leading personal injury law firms in Los Angeles. If you feel as if you have been harmed due to someone else’s negligence, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you get just compensation. Just Call Jacob Emrani: 888.952.2952