Often people wonder whether it is in their best interest to settle their claim out of court or take their chances with a trail and a jury. Your attorney will help to advise you on the best possible strategy for your individual case, but it is important to thoroughly understand the pros and cons of both possibilities. When considering a settlement or trial, it is important to know that most accident claims settle out of court.Estimates range from 80 to 92 percent of cases that ultimately settle out of court, so it is unlikely that cases will end up in court. However, being about to recognize the benefits and risks of each scenario will enable you to make the best decision for your case in conjunction with your accident attorney. Hiring an attorney with extensive personal injury experience will help to increase the impact of your case regardless of whether you settle or go to trial.
Resolving your case out of court is called a settlement. Often it is a single, one-time payment that is mutually agreed upon by both parties. In settlements, the defendant is generally not required to admit fault. A settlement can happen early in the negotiation process, in the middle of discussions, at a settlement conference, or even at the very last minute before the trail begins! There are both pros and cons to opting for a settlement.PROS
- Certainty of the amount of payment
- Parties control the outcome of the settlement
- Quicker resolution time
- Receive payment within 7 – 30 days
- Reduce attorney fees and costs
- Decrease stress levels
- Can be private
Without a crystal ball to see the future, it is difficult to perfectly predict what a jury will decide at a trial. Choosing a settlement over a trial allows the terms of the settlement to be dictated by both parties. This ability for each side to compromise on various terms enables both sides to create an agreement they can both live with.Settlements are less expensive than trials because they significantly reduce the costs associated with attorney hours, expert witnesses, depositions, and travel. If a settlement can be reached at the beginning of the process, often the expenses can be significantly reduced or even totally eliminated. Stress abounds during the trial process as the anticipation mounts and the idea of being on a witness stand becomes a reality. The unknown result can place a lot of emotional stress on individuals, as can the fear of being cross-examined by the other side’s attorney.The choice to settle allows the details of a civil case to be kept private, unlike a trial where the court documents become part of the public record where anyone can access them (unless a judge orders the records sealed). Confidentiality clauses can be incorporated into settlement agreements making the outcome even more private.CONS
- Smaller monetary awards for damages
- No admission of fault by the defendant
- Unable to share your story to help spur change
Often a settlement can leave the plaintiff feeling like they did not receive enough while the defendant feels like they overpaid. While the monetary compensation may often be less than what could be awarded by a jury, the only guaranteed money is in a settlement. It could be better to take what is offered rather than roll the dice and end up with nothing.
A trial is taken to a court and includes judges, attorneys, witnesses, testimonies, and a jury. The jury will ultimately decide who is at fault and the amount of monetary damages that are awarded.PROS
- Awards can be larger than settlement offers
- Part of the public record
- Meaningful closure
Often times, a jury will award a larger monetary amount to the plaintiff than they would normally receive in a settlement. The trial is part of the public record so it is accessible to any citizen for review and investigation. This means that the defendant can be held accountable by the public.CONS
- Uncertainty of success
- Part of the public record
Making the decision to go to trial can be due to the inability to find a mutually agreeable settlement as both parties may have misjudged the value of the case, the offered amount is not sufficient, or the need for public justice so that the community can hear a person’s story. Going to trial is a calculated risk as there are many variables that can influence the outcome of a decision. Both parties lose control over the outcome in a trial. Judges and juries are not predictable, and their decisions and demeanor vary greatly from court to court.Trials are not only time consuming, but they are expensive. A larger award amount can be reduced significantly by litigation expenses and fees related to the trial preparation. And again, trials become part of the public record. This could be a pro or a con depending upon your own personal viewpoint.
Good Advice from a Kansas City Accident Attorney
Your attorney will expand on the individual pros and cons of your specific claim and provide you with the reasoning behind accepting or rejecting any settlement offer as well as the expected costs of a trial. A good attorney will balance the facts and law applicable to your case to best assess the proper course of action at every stage of litigation. A good attorney will give you the harsh truth about your accident claim and be honest regarding the amount of compensation you can likely expect in either a settlement or trial.The attorneys at Popham Law have extensive experience with accident claims ranging from medical malpractice to car accidents. During your free consultation, our attorneys will go over the benefits of both a trail or a settlement regarding your individual case. They will be your counsel as well as your advocate throughout the process and will weigh all aspects of your case to determine the best course of action for you. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, contact Popham Law at (844) 243-2288 or visit their webpage today to schedule your free consultation.