business lawyer counseling a client
27 Aug

Will my Personal Injury Case go to Trial?

No, in general, most personal injury cases settle before reaching trial. Statistically, 95% of personal injury cases settle pretrial with only approximately 5% going to trial. Settling before trial tends to save time and money, even when the settlement offer is a hefty sum.

Pre-trials are generally encouraged and sought because taking a personal injury case to trial can mean years of working through the court system as well as increased costs. In that time, the personal injury victim may face job loss, continued medical treatment costs, and other financial problems. Pursuing a trial is time-intensive and financially stressful.

Personal injury trials often take more time to investigate due to only one investigator assigned to the case. All details of the personal injury case must be investigated from the injuries to the witness statements and all surrounding information. Sifting through that information to prepare for trial could easily take the investigator six months or more.

Normally, the personal injury victim or the insurance company does not benefit from going to trial.

For the insurance company or defendant, a trial can be costly, and may even result in a jury or judge who would award considerable pain and suffering damages to the personal injury victim. As the personal injury victim, a trial can not only be costly for you, but you will not receive damage reimbursement until after the case is determined. If you lose the trial, you may be out of more money. Trials are also public information whereas a settlement will be private.

Why It’s Better to Settle Your Personal Injury Claim

Settlement for a personal injury claim is often the best choice, simply because it’s private, faster, and guaranteed money. Meanwhile, a personal injury trial is public, slower, and the final amount for damages is unknown. However, a personal injury lawyer will know when it’s best to pursue a trial or settle.

Settlement Money

While a personal injury trial could mean a large award for pain and suffering, this is not always certain. The judge or jury could decide against you. In a settlement, a lawyer will negotiate for a fair settlement between you and the insurance company. A lawyer’s understanding of the system means that he or she will be negotiating for a settlement that would be reasonable and possibly equivalent to what you’d obtain from a trial.

Faster Payout with Settlement

Trials take time — and lots of it. Sometimes, a trial process can last months or years before the case is resolved. This means that the personal injury victim must wait for financial assistance for medical expenses and continue to relieve the accident trauma again until the case is closed. A settlement allows the personal injury victim to receive reimbursement quickly and to move on with life.

Trial Risks

Out of the 5% of personal injury cases that go to trial, a high percentage are often decided for the defendant. Speculation about why insurance companies receive the decision are many, but a few include that insurance companies branded themselves as a “good neighbor” to the public. Meanwhile, the personal injury victim may be painted in the worst light possible by the defendant’s lawyers.

Trial Costs

A personal injury case that goes to trial will accumulate a lot of financial costs from lawyer fees to court costs, and this makes going to trial extremely expensive. Often, the party that loses the trial will be required to pay the court costs of the winning party as well. When it comes down to the final verdict or settlement, it’s important to consider the costs of your legal needs. For example, if the case wins $500,000 at trial, you will become responsible for the legal fees from expert witnesses and accident recreation specialists, and that could cost nearly $100,000 plus attorney fees. Meanwhile, the pre-trial settlement might be $400,000, and fewer hours of expenses will be associated with that payout.

What Factors Influence a Decision for Settlement or Trial?

A number of factors influence the decision to accept a pre-trial settlement or pursue a trial. These include the actual injuries, treatment costs, future medical treatments, personal injury victim’s income and earning capacity, lost wages, damages, and so much more. Personal injury lawyers have years of understanding of the personal injury trial system and will know your best bet for a legal solution.

Settlement Reasons

  • The Defendant’s insurance company believes the personal injury lawsuit will succeed in court
  • A settlement is cheaper than attorney fees and court costs
  • The settlement offer is fair and comparable to a possible trial verdict

Trial Reasons

The defendant’s insurance company believes they’ll win a case that goes to court

  • The insurance company doesn’t want to set a precedence for this type of personal injury lawsuit
  • The monetary amount requested for settlement is too high based on the insurance company’s perspective
  • To hold a company or person accountable for their negligence

Most personal injury cases don’t go to trial, but some should. It’s important to know the difference, choosing the right times to negotiate, fight, and settle. If you’re unsure whether you have a personal injury claim, reach out today for a free consultation.