There are several reasons why most personal injury cases never got to trial. Settlements save time, money, and reduce the risks of the outcome, but some variables make a trial more viable.
According to available figures, less than 5% of personal injury cases go to trial, with most reaching an out-of-court settlement. The reasons for this are seen from two perspectives:
- For the insurance company, settling a claim eliminates the risk of the jury awarding a huge settlement for pain and damages.
- For the injured party, a settlement assures their privacy while also eliminating the chances that they may not be awarded damages if they lose the trial.
Whatever the personal injury case, the outcome could go either way, settlement, or trial. Whatever happens with yours, here are 5 things to expect:
1. Trials require the right attorney
Not all lawyers are experienced with taking personal injury cases to trial. That is why some personal injury lawyers prefer to take cases they are confident will settle out of court. When choosing a personal injury lawyer, it is best to look for one with a good reputation for their negotiating skills and trial experience. That does not mean that only a trial lawyer can help you with your case. A skilled negotiator can always refer you to a trial lawyer if needed.
2. Should you settle before a trial?
There are several reasons why both parties can benefit from settling a personal injury case. These include reduced legal costs and a quick settlement. The uncertainty of a trial verdict also affects both parties.
If you have been offered a settlement for your injuries, take into consideration how much a trial will cost you in attorney fees, expenses for hiring expert witnesses, and court costs. After these have been deducted from the amount expected to be awarded to you, you may find you are getting considerably less than the settlement would have got you, even after paying your lawyer.
3. Reason to go to trial
Several reasons can lead a case to go to trial. If the defendant’s insurance company believes they will win the case, they may offer a very low settlement or nothing at all, forcing the case to go to trial. Then again, the amount you are seeking for the settlement may be too high for the insurance company, forcing them to fight the claim in court.
Sometimes, an insurance company may want to avoid setting precedence for settling certain personal injury lawsuits. Finally, sometimes certain types of negligence incidents that cause injuries need to be made public. This forces the company to be held accountable, ensuring the greater good of the public.
4. What are the reasons most cases settle before trial?
One of the main reasons that most cases settle before trial is that the settlement offered by the defendant’s insurance company is fair. Smaller settlement amounts are not worth going to trial for, and you may prefer to settle than spend the money going to court. Finally, the defendant’s insurance company will prefer to negotiate a settlement if they know that your case will succeed in court. This way they save on the expensive fees a court case demands.
5. Preparing for a trial
If your personal injury case goes beyond the settlement stage, and you are determined to go to trial, here are some things you must prepare for:
- Your privacy is reduced because the details of your case are revealed in front of a judge and jury in court.
- The insurance company will investigate every aspect of your case and all the injuries you sustained. They aim to try and catch you in a lie and they want to make sure your statement matches your doctor’s orders. They may have an investigator follow you, recording all your movements.
- The process of going to court can be confusing and demands time. Expect to attend hearings, negotiations, and to meet many deadlines.
- Keep up an open line of communication with your lawyer to ensure the success of the case.
Lawyers know that each case is different. They use the facts before them and weigh every aspect of the case before deciding what your case is worth and how to take it forward.
This is when someone’s wrongful action caused you some sort or harm. Tort law entitles you to compensation.
Damages large enough to make pursuing the case worthwile, ability of the wrongful party to pay as well as clear and compelling claim of liability.