Prior to trial or even filing a civil complaint, most personal injury claims are settled out of court. Negotiating a settlement instead than going all the way to trial has a number of advantages in various cases, ranging from auto accidents to workers’ compensation. These benefits are thoroughly explored in this essay.
The cost of litigation is high, but the same may be said of settlement
As is customary in personal injury cases, the injured party (the plaintiff) will work on a contingency fee basis with his or her lawyer. A frequent arrangement is for the lawyer to get 33% of any pre-trial settlement and 40% of any money received after the trial has started in order to compensate them.
An attorney’s hourly charge means that the defendant’s out-of-pocket costs are far more than they are if the case is settled out of court. Legal fees aren’t the only costs associated with litigation. Expenses for experts, court appearances, travel, and time away from work can quickly mount. Taking a personal injury case to court might cost you a lot of money.
Trials are a Difficult Time
The average personal injury trial only lasts a few days, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t stressful for the people who are involved. Both sides’ pasts (and character) might be evaluated in front of the public during examination and cross-examination on the witness stand. There can be a lot of work involved, not just for the attorneys, in the weeks before a trial. Typically, the defendant pays some damages to the plaintiff as part of a settlement agreement, and the case is closed.
At trial, liability and damages cannot be predicted
There is no assurance that a jury would award the plaintiff greater damages (money) than what the defendant is willing to pay to settle the case. The outcome of a trial is famously erratic. The judge may exclude important evidence, eyewitnesses may be found to be unreliable, the plaintiff’s testimony may show contradictions, and so on. The current judicial system is intended to minimize the likelihood of unpleasant surprises throughout the course of a trial, but it is not infallible.
An appeals process can last several years
It is not uncommon for a lawsuit to be filed more than a year before a trial is set to begin. In the event that one side prevails in a trial, there is always the option for the losing party to appeal. To receive compensation for damages awarded at trial after multiple appeals, a typical personal injury case can take up to three or four years, on average (sometimes significantly longer). A settlement agreement, on the other hand, lays out exactly how much money will be exchanged and allows both parties to put the problem behind them after it’s been signed. Personal injury cases can take a long time to resolve.
Trials are public, whereas settlements are private
A personal injury trial is public record unless the judge directs the records to be sealed, which is extremely rare. As a result, everyone may read everything the parties used to make the other side appear bad, including witness testimony and evidence. A personal injury case can be settled without going to trial, which gives both parties entire discretion over the terms of settlement.
A Defendant who agrees to a settlement does not have to admit liability
Defendants who fail to win at trial (or who fail to win any later appeals) are deemed legally responsible for the plaintiff’s harm. The defendant, on the other hand, is under no obligation to admit fault if the parties reach a settlement. There are some drawbacks to this for a plaintiff who wants to prove guilt, but it is a huge benefit to defendants who don’t want to be publicly shamed for negligence or willful crime.