Why Do Most Personal Injury Cases Settle? | Evaluating All the Details
Contrary to popular belief, most personal injury claims settle before going to trial. Settling is usually the most convenient option for people, as it saves them time and money.
Many factors contribute to personal injury lawsuits settling, but it mostly depends on how willing both parties are to negotiate.
Most of the time, the best option is to settle personal injury cases as soon as possible. The guide below explains everything about personal injury law and how it can affect most cases. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also provide more information on the effect of tort reform on personal injury cases.
What Happens When a Personal Injury Case Settles?
A personal injury settlement happens when the plaintiff accepts the offer from the other party. In exchange, the person won't pursue the case in court. Plaintiffs are the people who got affected or experienced the damages from the personal injury case.
On the other hand, we have the defendant, which is the party accused of causing the damages.
In most personal injury cases, the defendant benefits from paying the victim to avoid going to trial. However, this person may not always be willing to pay what the plaintiff is asking for. If the negotiation doesn't go anywhere, that's where the case goes to trial.
The main risk of sending a case to trial (besides the monetary expenses) is that it's complicated to predict what the verdict will be. The plaintiff could end up getting less money than they need. On the contrary, the defendant could get asked to pay much more money than they can afford to lose.
Why Do Most Cases Settle?
Most personal injury cases settle because it's more convenient for everyone. Once the defendant or their insurance company pays the victim, everyone can move on.
Typically, a personal injury lawyer will suggest pursuing a proper settlement to avoid going to trial. The problem comes when one of the parties doesn't agree with the settlement offer.
Defendants may think the victim was also at fault for the accident or that they were exaggerating their damages. If this happens, the at-fault party won't want to accept the amount the victim is asking for.
On the contrary, the victim may not agree with what the defendant is offering, so they'll make a counteroffer. This process will go on until the victim decides to take the case to trial (if it ever happens).
The majority of personal injury cases settle before going to trial because no one wants to go through that process unless it's necessary.
What Are the Benefits of Settling a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
There are many benefits to settling a personal injury lawsuit. Hiring the right personal injury attorney ensures the victim gets the best deal possible so that they can move on with their recovery.
People can expect many variables in personal injury claims. Most of the time, appellate courts, juries, and even judges are unpredictable, which is why many people want to avoid them.
Taking a personal injury lawsuit to trial also increases the risk of "surprise evidence" appearing, which can hurt or improve a person's chances in the case. Even if the victim has a bulletproof case, nothing guarantees that the judge or jury will agree with them.
Many trials take unexpected turns that only increase the time and money expenses. Things get even worse if the other party appeals. There would have to be another round of litigation.
If both parties settle, though, they don't have to invest more money and energy in gathering evidence, finding witnesses, or defending themselves. Moreover, they don't have to rely on judges or jurors to reach a decision.
Saved Money and Time
A personal injury lawsuit isn't cheap to file. Typically, both parties have to pay for legal, witness, court, and travel fees. If the case involved something severe like a car accident, the victim would also have to think about lost wages and treatment expenses.
Dealing with medical treatment and lost wages is already overwhelming. Throwing in legal fees only makes things worse. When settling outside of court, however, both parties can save money on legal fees. They won't have to pay court costs or other related expenses either.
Time is another important factor that all personal injury lawyers consider. Trials can take several months to settle, which is a problem if the victim has to deal with missed work, pain and suffering, and medical costs.
Settling outside of court after a personal injury accident ensures the victim gets the money they need to complete their treatment and move on with their life. Taking the case to trial only increases the uncertainty of when the person will get their money.
Less Public Exposure
Sometimes, it's in the defendant's best interest to settle before going to court because of public exposure.
If the case's defendant is a product manufacturer, and they're releasing a new product soon, for example, a public personal injury case could destroy their reputation. These people are more likely to offer an appropriate personal injury settlement amount to avoid trials.
The only exception to this case is if the defendant truly believes they're not at fault. In these cases, they may hire an experienced legal expert to fight back. Still, it's hard to tell where a case will go. It's always better to settle and avoid public exposure as much as possible.
Some victims and defendants prefer not to disclose the details of their personal injury cases to the public. It's important to remember that many courts are open to the public, meaning that people can simply go inside and watch sometimes.
Cases that go to trial will make a lot of information public, which isn't something that most people involved want.
If both parties agree on a personal injury settlement, however, the details of the case won't go public (unless there wasn't a confidential agreement between them). Victims can talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the possibility of offering a mutual non-disclosure agreement to prevent anyone from talking about the case.
Less Stress or Anxiety
Personal injury cases are already overwhelming for both the victim and the defendant. Adding the stress that comes with taking the case to trial makes things worse.
In many cases, the victim will have to talk about the accident repeatedly during the discovery process. They may also have to take time off work, which isn't convenient.
On the defendant's side, having an open case about something that happened a while ago can be mentally taxing.
Settling the case before going to court ensures both parties can move on with their lives without any unnecessary stress.
Some trial verdicts are subject to appeals and motions, which can take more time to get solved. In these cases, settling outside of court is better, as it's almost guaranteed that the decision is final.
It's important to note that insurance companies never work with the victim's best interest in mind. They'll often offer lower settlement amounts to save money. All plaintiffs should first get legal advice from their personal injury lawyer before accepting an insurance company's settlement offer.
The right lawyer will negotiate and ensure the victim gets the compensation they deserve.
When Do Personal Injury Claims Go to Trial?
There are many scenarios where personal injury cases go to trial. Even though this option isn't convenient most of the time, it can be the only viable one for the victim to get the money they need to recover financially and emotionally.
Personal injury cases can go to trial if:
The plaintiff wants to sue for punitive damages.
Neither party agrees on a settlement amount.
The insurance company doesn't offer an appropriate settlement.
The defendant doesn't admit their fault.
The defendant's insurance isn't enough to cover all the damages caused by the accident.
Should People Try to Settle or Take the Case to Trial?
It depends on the circumstances. Typically, the best option for both parties is to settle.
Unfortunately, victims may not always get a good offer for their injuries. If they can't agree with the defendant on a reasonable amount of money, they may decide to take the case to trial.
In many cases, it's hard to tell what the best option is. Talking to a personal injury lawyer makes things much easier, as they can evaluate the case's potential right away.
What Factors Affect a Personal Injury Case?
A few factors affect the possibility of a personal injury case going to trial. It's important to remember that all cases are different, so there's no general guideline to follow. Still, some specific circumstances can help the people involved evaluate what the best course of action is:
The Complexity of the Case
Minor personal injury cases are more likely to get settled fast. These accidents often don't involve any testimonies, testing, or long discovery periods.
When the case is straightforward, both parties are more likely to agree on a settlement that benefits everyone.
On the other hand, if the case involved severe injuries or even death, there's a lot more information to process. The more variables involved in the accident, the less likely the parties will be to agree on a settlement fast.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer always helps make the process easier for the people involved, regardless of how complex it is.
If the case doesn't involve too much money, it's more likely to get settled fast. The problem, however, appears when both parties don't agree on how much the injuries are worth.
Sometimes, the plaintiff believes their claim is worth much more than what the defendant is offering. If neither party wants to settle, the case will more than likely go to trial.
As mentioned, insurance companies have the goal of saving money. They will always try to offer the least amount of money to get the case over with.
Willingness to Negotiate
Not all defendants are reluctant to negotiate. Sometimes, they will immediately admit fault and accept the victim's requests.
However, some defendants don't like admitting they were at fault, especially if doing that affects their public relations/reputation. This is more common in cases where the defendant represents a company. Accepting fault will encourage other people to sue, which can make things worse.
If the defendant thinks they have even the slightest chance of winning the case, they may do everything in their power to negotiate on their behalf. These cases often go to trial.
What Compensation Can People Expect from a Personal Injury Claim?
The compensation someone can get from a personal injury case depends on its facts. In other words, the compensation is based on all the damages caused and how they affected the victim's life.
It's hard to come up with a standard settlement amount since every case is unique. Cases involving severe injuries will undoubtedly be more expensive, though.
Another important factor that influences the amount of money someone gets from a case is the attorney's skills. These cases involve a lot of negotiation, and if the plaintiff isn't able to show the necessary evidence or support their claims, they will have to settle for lower amounts of money.
A personal injury lawyer gives the plaintiff the best chance of getting the compensation they deserve.
These legal experts know how to navigate most common cases, allowing them to come up with an appropriate strategy that gets their clients a reasonable amount of money to move on with their lives.
Sometimes, cases settle because the plaintiff doesn't have negotiation experience, so they accept the initial offer that the insurance company made. Even though the offer may not be bad, there's a chance that the victim could have earned more money if they had the help of a lawyer.
What's the Timeline for a Personal Injury Case in Texas?
The first thing victims must do to file a personal injury lawsuit is to check their state's statute of limitations. These statutes tell people how much time they have to file a case. Failing to meet that deadline could result in the lawsuit getting dismissed.
In Texas, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years. Victims have two years from the date of the accident to seek legal action against the at-fault party.
Even though two years is plenty of time to file a lawsuit, it's always best to do it as soon as possible. The sooner the victim takes legal action, the more likely they'll be of winning more money.
Once the person hires a lawyer and starts working on their case, they'll gather all the evidence needed to negotiate with the other party. Common pieces of evidence include witness testimonies, police reports, videos and photos of the accident scene, medical reports, etc.
Finally, the attorney negotiates with the defendant or their insurance company to come up with a mutual agreement. If both parties accept the settlement offer, they're good to go.
On the other hand, if one of the parties believes they can win the case, they may seek a trial. Settling will make the case shorter. Alternatively, going to trial can extend the case for months.
As mentioned, all personal injury cases are unique. Victims should talk to their lawyers first to evaluate how the case's timeline could look.
How Can an Attorney Help Navigate These Cases?
Going through a car accident or any other type of personal injury is devastating. If the injury was severe enough, the victim must deal with many medical bills and lost wages. Some cases also involve mental anguish and other emotional problems, which can make the damages worse.
Even though seeking compensation should be the victim's priority, they should also be able to focus on their recovery. Unfortunately, it's hard for victims to focus on both things at the same time, as they're equally taxing on their bodies and minds.
Plaintiffs can solve this issue by hiring a personal injury lawyer. Legal experts in this area help victims navigate their cases much more smoothly. They won't have to worry about understanding personal injury law anymore since the lawyer will take care of that.
The right professional will have exceptional negotiation skills, ensuring their client gets enough compensation to live a normal life and not spend out-of-pocket money.
Personal injury cases are confusing, but having a lawyer present certainly provides peace of mind for the victim.
To summarize, a personal injury attorney can help victims with:
Negotiating with insurance companies
Taking the case to trial (if needed)
Ensuring their rights are respected
Most personal injury cases settle before going to court. Something interesting to note is that these cases can settle at any stage of the case.
Some cases settle before the case is filed, whereas others settle right at the end to prevent appeals from the opposing side.
Even though settlements often don't involve larger amounts of money, it's more convenient most of the time. There's a possibility of earning more money from taking the case to trial, but there are many variables that could turn the case in the other person's favor. In other words, there's too much risk when taking a case to trial.
By hiring the right lawyer, victims may have a better chance of settling before going to court. This gives them peace of mind and faster access to the money they need to recover. They can also help with things like explaining how settlement negotiation works in an injury case.
The team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is prepared to help people in Dallas, Texas, to fight for their rights and reach a settlement that benefits them and their recovery process. Interested people can book a free case evaluation today for more information.