If you have been injured and are contemplating litigation to recover compensation for your injuries, you may be wondering what will happen during the lawsuit. And if the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company ultimately offers money to settle, you may wonder whether you should settle your case, or go to trial. The answer depends on so many different factors that it would be impossible to provide any specific guidance.
Generally, however, there are several factors to consider when deciding whether to settle or whether to go to trial.
What Is Your Risk Tolerance?
Going to trial involves many unknowns. You will be putting your fate in the hands of a group of strangers who have a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and biases, and who may or may not be sympathetic to your case. Juries are known to be unpredictable and even the best lawyers cannot guarantee any specific outcome at trial. Judges can also be unpredictable at trial, and can rule against you when it comes to presenting certain evidence or arguments. Witnesses can also sometimes be unpredictable and can potentially derail a case.
Ultimately, there may be great risk going to trial because you are relying on other people to determine whether you will win or lose, and whether you will receive the compensation you think you deserve.
Settlement, on the other hand, eliminates that risk. Once you decide to settle your case, that’s it. You will receive a certain amount of money shortly after you settle your case.
But of course, the settlement must make sense. Settling for a minimal amount that does not fairly compensate you for your injuries simply to eliminate the risk of going to trial usually will be discouraged by your attorney. You do not want to unnecessarily “leave money on the table” and there may be a huge upside to going to trial (either from winning outright or forcing the defendant to offer a higher amount to settle before, during, or after trial; remember, the defendant is also potentially facing a great risk of losing at trial).
Are You In a Hurry To Move On?
Settlement stops the proceedings and, barring unusual circumstances, you will receive your settlement money in a short period of time after you settle. Your lawsuit will be dismissed, and you will be able to quickly move on with your life and not worry about the lawsuit moving forward.
Going to trial, however, will cause delays in receiving compensation. First, depending on when a settlement is offered to you, you may have to wait weeks or months before the trial is over. Second, even if you win at trial, the defendant could decide to appeal. Or you may lose at trial and want to appeal. Appeals can take 2 or more years to resolve. Are you willing to possibly wait weeks, months, or even years before you are compensated for your injuries? Settlement before going to trial can eliminate that delay.
Even if you think you will likely win at trial, is it worth waiting months, weeks, or years before getting that money? While interest does accrue on money owned by a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, perhaps you want or need the money now to pay for medical bills or surgery, or to move to a different home. Settlement will allow you access to your money now.
Are You Willing To Endure a Trial?
Trials can be a difficult, tiring, emotional, and stressful experience. It can be mentally and physically draining. No matter how righteous you believe your case to be, you will be attacked by the defense during trial. You will take the stand and be questioned extensively by opposing counsel. You will be judged by the jury. Trial days are long and require strength and stamina. A trial can potentially be a traumatizing experience, especially if you do not win, which, as note above, is a risk of going to trial.
Settlement eliminates these issues. There is no need for a trial once you settle your case.
However, some people place a high value on being able to publicly tell their story at trial, to present evidence of what the defendant did, and to have a jury tell the defendant that what they did was wrong. Settlements rarely allow a person an opportunity to let the world know that the defendant did something wrong. If it is important to you to make sure other people know about what happened to you and to have the opportunity to have the judicial system hold the defendant accountable, then going to trial may be a stronger pull than settlement.
What Does Your Attorney Recommend?
Your experienced attorney will advise you what a reasonable settlement range will be for your case (and remember, the range can change over time depending on investigation, evidence obtained, court rulings, etc.) and you should carefully consider your attorney’s advice when considering the risk of going to trial or accepting a settlement. Your experienced attorney has faced settlement offers and trials and weighed the risks and benefits of each many times before. They understand the value of your case, the nature of your injuries, and whether a settlement offer is reasonable or unreasonable. You should consider your lawyer’s experience and recommendations when deciding whether or not to accept a settlement offer.
Contact Whalen Injury Lawyers Today
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligent conduct, you may have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation. Once you file your lawsuit, you may receive an offer to settle and you may wonder whether or not you should take the settlement or proceed to trial. The experienced trial attorneys at Whalen Injury Lawyers will be able to help you navigate the complexities of personal injury litigation and understand the pros and cons regarding settlement and trial. We are available to help you explore your legal rights and help you seek the compensation you are entitled to. To contact us, call us at 720-307-2666.