Settling a Personal Injury Case vs. Going to Court
Approximately 31 million personal injuries requiring medical care occur each year. Personal injuries can occur due to an automotive accident, defective product, birth injury, medical malpractice, construction accident, or some other action. Suppose that you have been injured in an accident that was caused by the fault of another person or entity. In that case, you could be entitled to bring a lawsuit against the defendant or negotiate a settlement to recover compensation for damages under the law.
The Outcome of a Personal Injury Trial is not Guaranteed
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only about 5 percent of personal injury cases go to trial. Litigation is expensive, and the outcome can be unpredictable.
A large percentage of cases that go to trial end up losing because of many factors, such as:
- The defendant may be a giant entity that can afford to invest lots of money to fight the case.
- The evidence collected may not be enough to prove the defendant’s liability.
- You may be partially responsible for your injuries.
- Some improper legal procedural issues, such as the expiration of the statute of limitations, may prevent the case from moving forward.
How Does a Personal Injury Settle Without Going to Trial?
Two ways a personal injury can settle without going to trial are:
- A Negotiated Settlement – This is when your lawyer negotiates with the defendant’s attorney or insurance company to reach a fair settlement. Once settled, you agree to accept an agreed-upon sum of money in exchange for giving up your right to take any further legal action regarding the accident.
- Mediation or Arbitration – Both parties may agree to meet with a neutral mediator who is trained to help the dispute reach a mutually agreeable solution, based on information gathered from:
- Each party speaking to the mediator privately
- Both parties speaking openly to the mediator
- Both parties talking to each other under the oversight of the mediator
- Both parties testifying before the mediator (Arbitration)
According to the Justice Department, approximately 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled before trial. Personal injury victims often need a settlement as soon as possible to pay mounting medical bills and it could take months for all the pre-trial investigative work to be done. This may result in a trial lasting several years.
Negotiating a settlement can take time as both sides must agree to a final settlement, or the case will go to trial. Once your case is settled, you cannot reopen your claim for any reason. If your injuries are more severe than you realized, or your recovery takes longer than anticipated, you will have to secure another funding source or dig into your pocket.
Problems in Reaching a Quick Injury Settlement
When you’re in an accident, there are many items that run through your mind and you are likely to become stressed. You might also be in shock, which can make your body immune to the pain of an injury. Many injuries may not appear significant at the time of the event. For example, whiplash might be mistaken for a bruise on the back of your neck. Some injuries may require surgery, a stay in the hospital, and therapy. The majority of people suffer financial troubles as a result. Your financial condition may not be optimal, and major medical expenses might add to your debt load. You may not be able to cover all of your medical and treatment costs if you accept a settlement offer. If you are going through a legal claim, you are required to show proof of detriment.
Suppose you’re involved in an accident and have suffered injuries. In that case, you should not accept any settlement offer until you have consulted with an experienced personal injury lawyer with solid negotiation skills and trial experience. A personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and ensure you get the maximum compensation you are legally entitled to through a negotiated settlement or trial verdict.
“Pre-trial Settlement Percentage: Statistics on Personal Injury Settlements ” The Law Dictionary [Link]
“Settlement, Negotiated” Encyclopedia.com [Link]