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The pros and cons of settling out of court

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2017 | Firm News, motor vehicle accidents

Imagine being involved in a car accident. The other driver was texting while driving and crashed into your vehicle. The accident totaled your car and left you with a few broken bones or even more serious injuries. Now you have growing medical bills, a new car to buy and lost wages from missing work. You know that the other driver’s insurance should cover these expenses, but should you take a settlement or go to trial?

How Often Do Personal Injury Cases Go To Trial?

In most cases, personal injury claims never see the inside of a courtroom. In fact, between 80 and 92 percent of civil cases are settled. Usually, the insurance company offers a settlement. This might happen before you even file a lawsuit for damages. However, a settlement can be reached at any time during the process. A settlement may even be reached just moments before trial.

The injured party, the claimant, is typically the one who determines when a case is settled. The power is in your hands. In many cases, the negligent party’s insurance company will reach out with a settlement offer. This could come even when the victim is still in the hospital or healing from the injuries caused by the car accident or other type of accident.

While the victim may accept the insurance adjuster’s initial settlement offer, settlements often include back-and-forth negotiations between the insurance company and the injured party’s attorney. There are both pros and cons to accepting a settlement.

A personal injury attorney in the Cincinnati area can help you determine if a settlement is right for you in a free consultation. Call 513-823-3257.

Factors To Consider When Deciding Whether To Accept A Settlement

When deciding whether or not to accept a settlement, there are several things to take into consideration. Most importantly is the value of the settlement. Ideally, the settlement will be sufficient to pay all of your medical bills, including future medical bills if your injuries will require further procedures or physical therapy. Similarly, if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, you should be compensated for future lost wages as well as the paychecks you have already missed.

These are the key economic damages. However, there are also noneconomic damages. You may be entitled to money for the pain and suffering you have experienced because of the negligent party’s actions.

An attorney can review a settlement offer for free to determine whether it offers sufficient compensation for all of the damages you have experienced. If it does not, then your attorney may work to negotiate a higher settlement. If the insurance company refuses to provide a fair amount of compensation, you and your attorney can make the decision to go to trial.

Prior to doing so, your attorney will look at the strength of your case. This includes examining similar car accident or other personal injury cases that have gone through Cincinnati courts and the verdicts the juries handed down on them. The odds of winning at trial will be a crucial factor. Your attorney will evaluate your evidence and your opponent’s evidence to determine who has the stronger case.

The time and emotional investment involved in taking a case to trial should also be factored into the decision between accepting a settlement or going to trial.

Pros Of Accepting A Settlement

In general, you can usually negotiate a settlement and receive a payout much quicker than going through the trial process.

Reaching a settlement is a guarantee of compensation. You get a settlement check that you or your attorney can cash. In a trial, there is a risk of losing, and a risk of getting less than the amount offered in a settlement. According to a study cited in the New York Times, civil plaintiffs were wrong to go to trial 61 percent of the time and ended up walking away with less than offered or nothing at all.

Settling means avoiding the stress of going to trial. No need to testify or take additional time off work to go to court. In the trial process, you may be under a great deal of scrutiny by your opponent, questioning the severity of your injury.

If you choose to settle out of court, you save yourself exposure. Court proceedings are often public, which means if you go to trial you risk certain personal information coming under scrutiny.

Cons Of Accepting A Settlement

When you agree to a settlement, you essentially give up your right to pursue any further legal action. In other words, if you cash your settlement check and it runs out before you’ve paid your continuing medical bills, you will not be able to go back and ask for more.

If you accept the first settlement offer, it is possible that you are getting a lowball offer from the insurance company and could have negotiated for a higher amount.

You never know exactly what a jury will decide in a personal injury case or any other civil case. If you accept a settlement, you may end up with a much lower award than a jury may have granted.

It Costs Nothing To Discuss Your Options With A Lawyer

If you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Deciding whether or not to pursue a settlement or a court case can make a significant difference in the amount of damages you receive. It is typically your best bet to have a lawyer on your side who is both a strong negotiator and a persuasive litigator. Email us to learn more.