“I would rather not go to court.”
That’s something we routinely hear from clients at the beginning of a case. As most clients intuitively understand, trials are often long, expensive, and grueling. The good news is the vast majority of personal injury cases settle before a lawsuit is filed. Even those that go through litigation usually settle before the trial. What percentage of personal injury cases go to trial? Recent nationwide studies found that 98% of all personal injury cases are resolved before trial, often with the assistance of a professional mediator. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why:
Taking A Case To Trial Is Expensive
In personal injury cases, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof. This means it’s the injured party’s responsibility to prove that the defendant was negligent–and that negligence caused an injury. Proving negligence is usually straightforward (for example, when a defendant runs a red light). But proving that negligence caused serious injury is more complicated. The plaintiff often needs medical experts to testify about how the injury occurred, what treatment is necessary, and what the plaintiff can expect in the future. The services of medical professionals are pricey and can reach tens of thousands of dollars. Usually, both sides need medical experts to testify in court–so both parties have a financial interest in settling the case. There are numerous additional costs to bringing a case to trial, including filing fees, depositions, and transcripts. When a case goes to trial, it also generally means an increase in attorneys fees (up to 40 percent) because of the increased workload involved. When you chalk up all of these expenses and the risk involved with a trial, settling a case is typically worth it in the long run.
Taking A Case To Trial Is Risky
As seasoned personal injury lawyers, we know that juries and judges are unpredictable. Because of human nature, one group of people might view the same set of facts completely differently than another. So taking a case to trial is risky. One jury might award a plaintiff a million dollars, while another group of individuals might return a verdict for absolutely nothing in the same case. A personal injury trial is always a gamble. Judges are also human beings, of course. While they’re more predictable in their verdicts than a jury, they can also be more conservative in awarding compensation to injured people. Fortunately, both the plaintiff’s attorneys and the defendant’s insurance company understand these essential facts of legal life. While it doesn’t work in every case, negotiation is almost always the preferred initial route to resolution.
How Long Do Personal Injury Cases Take To Settle?
When injured, most claimants want the matter behind them. When you’re suffering from injuries, time is of the essence to get you the medical care you need. Settling out of court is usually the fastest way to get you the compensation you deserve. Taking a serious personal injury case to trial often takes years. While the plaintiff is recovering from injuries, they’re often burdened with medical bills and uncertainty about what will happen with their case. That’s why our first approach is working through the defendant’s insurance company. Most cases settle through direct negotiations with an insurance adjuster, and the experience of an established law firm is invaluable in these negotiations. However, some cases go through the mediation process with a retired judge who serves as a third-party mediator. The mediator manages negotiations between the plaintiff, their lawyers, and the defendant’s insurance company. Many claimants prefer resolution through mediation because it is a voluntary process that keeps the client as the decision-maker instead of handing the case off to 7 strangers-the jury. If we can’t agree through direct negotiations, mediation is a quicker and less expensive solution than a court case, as long as both sides agree to it.
Whether You Settle Or Go To Court, The Right Legal Team Matters
Most cases settle out of court, much to the relief of our clients. Settlement is usually a win for everyone, bringing fair compensation in a reasonable timeframe. Regardless of whether a case needs to go to court, a fair result is seldom achieved in the absence of the plaintiff and his or her counsel demonstrating that he or she is ready, willing, and able to go to trial. At Burnett & Williams, our attorneys and staff always prepare each case as if it may eventually go to trial. We’re always prepared in case negotiations don’t offer a satisfactory settlement. Our experience and in-depth legal knowledge help you weigh each option’s risks and potential rewards. At the end of the day, it’s the client’s decision whether to settle or go to trial. As attorneys, it’s our duty to fully and transparently advise our clients on their options and help them make the decision that will get them the compensation they deserve.
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact our experienced attorneys at Burnett & Williams for a free consultation.