Whether your personal injury claim (or any other case) will go to trial depends on many factors. No one will be able to tell you from the beginning what will happen, and that is true even if you do want to settle the suit.
Sometimes you cannot know until the very last moment that a suit will settle. Being prepared for trial is the only way to ensure that you are prepared for any eventuality and that you can push for the best settlement possible. This is true for all types of cases and whether you are the defendant or plaintiff.
Preparing for Settlement
Courts encourage negotiated resolutions but settling is not simply a matter of giving up. To reach a point where settlement is reasonable, lawyers will still have to do research, examine evidence, and show the opposition why going to trial is bad news.
A good settlement is a win-win for both sides. The plaintiff and defendant both benefit from avoiding a trial, which are costly and stressful affairs. And trials are a dice roll — no one knows just what a jury will do with the evidence presented to it.
Factors that will influence the parties’ willingness to settle then, is their perception of the evidence, and how they imagine it can be seen by others, as well as their own appetite for risk. Some defendants cannot take the publicity risk that accompanies a trial, some may prefer to roll the dice until the very end.
Factors to Consider
Submitting a case to a jury or judge is a risk. With settlement, you know what you are getting and you know it’s probably less than the best case scenario, or what a jury would award if you won the case on its merits. That said, you also mitigate the risk of loss, or the possibility that your injury will go totally uncompensated, by settling.
An attorney cannot promise you a particular outcome and one who does should be avoided. But your experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you about typical cases and how situations similar to yours have been handled in the past.
Counsel can review the evidence with you and provide an assessment of the strengths and weakness of your case. Sometimes hearing two sides of the story, and knowing more about the likely defenses, pushes a plaintiff to consider settlement more seriously. Maybe you prefer a sure deal to more fighting.
Trials can be long and complex, so many lawyers and their clients prefer to avoid them. That said, taking your case to an attorney who only ever settles suits could be a sign that you are working with a settlement mill, or the kind of law firm that churns out personal injury cases at an alarming rate and relies on cases settling quickly.
The best way to get a good and fair settlement, is to have a lawyer who is prepared to take a case to trial but can recognize a good deal when it is offered.
- Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
- Filing a Lawsuit: Should You Sue? (FindLaw)
- Spotting Settlement Mills and Fast Food Lawyering (FindLaw’s Injured)