Does the resolution of your personal injury case demand the wisdom of a higher authority? A substantial majority of these suits never see the inside of a courtroom. However, there will always be times when only judge and jury can effectively decide a case to the plaintiff’s best advantage.
Before rejecting a settlement offer in favor of going to trial, here are some things you’ll want to consider.
1. How Attractive Is the Offered Settlement?
The defendant’s lawyer or insurance carrier will always begin negotiations by extending a settlement offer. If you accept it, the entire process will go more smoothly. Unfortunately, the parties involved in any personal injury case can easily find it difficult to come to an agreement. If the offered settlement should prove insufficient to cover present and future medical bills, the plaintiff may feel forced to escalate the matter. Furthermore, if the case involves punitive damages, bringing it before the court can result in a far more sizable award.
2. How Badly Do You Need the Settlement Money?
If you decide to go to court, one thing is certain: You’ll have to wait somewhat longer to receive your monetary award, and if the tide should turn against you, you might not receive it at all. In the meantime, you’ll still be dealing with lost wages, medical bills and other associated costs. Unless you can pay them out of your pocket, taking the smaller but quicker and sure-thing settlement might be a better choice, but it may be a much smaller settlement.
3. What Is Your Tolerance for Risk?
You may have brought your case before the judge, but it’s no guarantee that you’re going to win. It is impossible to predict the ways in which a judge and jury will ultimately rule. If they fail to reach an agreement, the judge will declare a mistrial and either start it over with a fresh jury or dismiss it altogether. You could also lose the case and wind up walking away with no award whatsoever.
It is certain that taking your case to court equates to giving up a sure thing for a great unknown, and not everyone feels comfortable with this level of risk. However, a successful court case will often result in an award that’s far greater in amount than anything that was specified in the original settlement offer.
4. Are You Ready to Wait Out a Possible Appeal?
A settlement is a binding contract that closes the case with a guaranteed payment to the plaintiff. It also forces the defendant to relinquish his right to appeal. The court case winner, on the other hand, has no such protection. The losing party may mount any number of appeals, and during this time, your case remains open while the promise of your damages award remains in a state of suspension.
5. Can You Handle the Litigation Costs?
Despite the attractiveness of any potential damages award, taking a personal injury case to trial can be expensive. Between court costs and attorney’s fees, litigation can impose serious financial hardships on one or both sides.
It is true that in personal injury cases, the plaintiff’s attorney will accept payment on a contingency basis that amounts to a sliding percentage of any recovery amount. However, you must realize that in addition to reconciling your medical and other associated bills, any settlement you receive will have to cover associated court costs. These expenses may vastly deplete the size of any eventual settlement and could stand as a major incentive for settling a personal injury case out of court.
6. Can You Afford to Miss Work?
Some personal injury trials are over in one day, but many can continue for a week or more. Add this to the number of workdays your injuries may have already forced you to miss, and you’re looking at a sizeable chunk of time off the job. Unless you feel able to miss that many more days of work, taking your personal injury case to court may not be in your best interests.
Check the Personal Injury Timeline for more information.
When You Have No Other Choice
The decision of whether to bring a personal injury case before judge and jury is usually the defendant’s call. Unfortunately, there will always be times when the parties are unable to agree on the extent of liability as well as the true value of the claim. When a court trial appears the only possible means of reaching a resolution, the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney becomes essential.
You’ll find that attorney at Weiner Law Group. We have helped countless individuals resolve their personal injury cases in a satisfactory manner, and we can do the same for you. For a free consultation on your personal injury case, call Weiner Law Group today at 702-202-0500.