Going to Trial vs. a Settlement

December 4, 2023 Personal injury

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, reckless actions, or purposeful wrongdoing, you shouldn’t be left responsible for the undue damages. In personal injury claims, the word “damages” refers to all the economic consequences to the victim, such as their medical expenses and lost wages, plus the non-economic consequences like pain and suffering. Civil courts in each state offer injury victims a means of redress for these wrongs through a personal injury claim. Typically, an attorney assists the victim in filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party and then investigates the case, gathers evidence, and then crafts a compelling case for compensation for the damages to present to the insurance company of the liable party. At this point in the process, it’s likely your Encino personal injury attorney will discuss the pros and cons of accepting a settlement vs going to trial so you can make the best possible decision for your unique case.

Why Accept a Settlement?

Many injury victims who accept settlements offered by an insurance company after an injury, later wonder if they could have gotten a greater amount if their claim had gone to trial. However, there are many good reasons to accept a settlement offer—which is why almost 95% of personal injury claims end with a settlement. Some key reasons to accept a settlement include the following:

  • A settlement means you avoid having to make a courtroom appearance and the need to discuss the details of the case before a judge and jury
  • Avoiding court means avoiding court costs and extended attorney fees for courtroom litigation
  • Settlements put money in a victim’s hands much faster than a court case
  • Accepting a settlement means your case remains confidential, while court litigation makes it a matter of public record
  • When the at-fault party’s insurance company offers a settlement, you’re guaranteed compensation, while a court case depends on a jury’s verdict, possibly leaving you with no compensation at all if the jury decides against you

There are many good reasons to accept a settlement offer as long as it covers your financial damages rather than risk a failed court case. In the vast majority of cases, an experienced personal injury attorney will advise a client to accept a settlement offer.

Why Choose to Go to Trial in a Personal Injury Case?

There are times that an injury victim chooses to go to trial to take their claim for compensation to a jury. In most cases, plaintiffs choose to go to trial for the following reasons:

  • The insurance company of the at-fault party denies the claim
  • The insurance company offers a low settlement that doesn’t cover the victim’s damages
  • Jury verdicts tend to be higher than a settlement amount, so an injury victim may be willing to risk a loss for a chance for a higher amount of compensation
  • Some injury victims feel they’ll achieve a greater sense of justice and accountability in their case through a trial experience since defendants don’t have to admit they’re in the wrong for a settlement offer
  • A victim may prefer to take their case to a jury of their peers for a sense of closure in telling their story on the stand

Despite the risks, a percentage of injury victims choose to pursue their cases in court rather than accept a settlement offer even when the settlement amount is reasonable for the circumstances of their injury.

Should I Accept a Settlement or Go to Trial for My Injury Claim?

Your attorney will advise you of the pros and cons of going to trial vs. accepting a settlement offer in your unique case. If an attorney feels that they have a strong case and are confident that you’ll gain a large jury award, they may advise taking the claim to court. However, if they feel that the court costs and greater legal fees associated with court litigation will take a significant portion of a court award and that you’ll end up with less than the settlement offer, they will advise against it. Juries can be unpredictable, so there is always a greater risk in taking a case to court.

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