Should I Take My Personal Injury Case to Court?

Categories: Personal Injury

Trial court in WA

One of the biggest questions on a plaintiff’s mind is whether they should settle or take their case to court. While not an easy decision, it is one you could make more confidently with the right legal representation.

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney begins negotiating with the insurance company. The goal is to settle for an agreeable amount outside of court, which means no one has to worry about risking a trial outcome.

Most personal injury cases do not go to court. Instead, they settle through negotiations. While the chances of going to court are unlikely, you should still weigh the pros and cons. This is because you may find yourself having to decide whether settlement talks are worth it or if you should take your chances in court.

An attorney will advise you as to whether or not your case has a chance at trial, and they may tell you their opinion on whether risking a trial is worth it – especially if the insurer is refusing to settle and your attorney feels that you have a strong case.

What You Need to Know about Settlements

Settlements mean that your case was resolved through negotiations outside of court. You will receive a one-time payment from the defendant or their insurer for your injuries, and you both agreed upon the payment amount. In most cases, the defendant can pay for a lawsuit, but they do not have to admit fault – which may help save their business or personal reputation.

The Benefits of Taking a Settlement

If you are thinking of taking a settlement, there are a few key advantages for doing so:

  • You know the settlement amount, because you and the other party have agreed to it.
  • You will finish the personal injury claim process faster, because you are not held up by court dates or waiting for a jury’s decision.
  • You receive your money faster, because you do not have the court acting as a payment intermediary.
  • Attorney’s fees, those outside of your contingency fee, are typically lower, because trials are expensive and settlements take less resources.
  • You will save yourself the stress of going to court.
  • You can keep your settlement amount private.

The Disadvantages of Settling

While you have plenty of benefits for settling out of court, you have a few drawbacks you should always consider before you take a settlement check.

  • You will receive less in a settlement than you would if you won a jury trial, because juries tend to award higher amounts for injuries.
  • The defendant does not have to admit fault, which means you may not receive the justice you were hoping for.
  • Your settlement is confidential, but you may have to sign a confidentiality agreement. This means you cannot discuss the terms of the settlement with anyone, and you will have no public way to show that the defendant was negligent.

What You Need to Know about Personal Injury Cases and Trials

If you want to take your case to trial, you will have a judge, attorneys for each side, and a jury handling the case. You will each present your evidence, there will be witnesses, and eventually the jury deliberates and determines if the defendant was negligent and the amount of compensation you should receive.

The Benefits of Taking a Personal Injury Case to Trial

Trial does have its benefits, and your attorney might feel that going to trial is better for your particular case because:

  • Jury awards are typically higher than settlements through negotiations, which means you may have a higher compensation value.
  • Your trial is a matter of public record, which means the defendant will be found at-fault, and that will be part of the court record. Also, you can discuss the case and even the outcome, because you will not be bound by a confidentiality agreement.
  • You may receive more meaningful closure in your case, especially if you have serious injuries or you lost a loved one.

The Drawbacks of Taking a Case to Court

Yes, you could get a higher settlement and the chance to hold someone accountable, but going to trial has its risks. There is a reason most attorneys and insurance companies prefer to settle out of court:

  • Trials are incredibly unpredictable. Even if you have evidence that seems clear-cut on who was at-fault, you never know how a jury will interpret that evidence. Therefore, you have no control on the outcome of your case and no way to guarantee the jury will award you compensation.
  • A trial is costly, stressful, and time consuming. You may spend months just waiting for a trial date and then have to wait even longer as the process plays out.
  • Trials are expensive; therefore, you will owe your attorney more fees in the end to recover their costs.
  • Trials are public records. This means that, while everyone knows the defendant was at-fault, they also know that you have received an award and your private information is now public.
  • You could walk away with less. While juries can award more than you would get privately, they may decide that you were partially at fault and award you with less compensation.

Speak with an Injury Attorney to Discover the Best Route for Your Case

It is best to speak with an injury attorney any time you are thinking of making an injury claim. Not only can an attorney review your case and tell you if you have a valid claim, but your attorney can advise you on whether or not a trial is the right choice.

Attorneys have years of experience handling cases just like yours, and they know when a case is a good candidate for trial and when it could be too risky. Therefore, you want an advocate ready to fight for maximum compensation regardless of which route you choose.

To get started or to explore your options, speak with an injury attorney from Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. You can book a free consultation today by calling us or requesting more information online by using the online contact form.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.