The best approach to circumstances like this is to prepare for your case as though you’re in a lawsuit.
If you got tangled in a set of circumstances where you got injured through the negligence of others, you’ll have the right to file a personal injury claim. Through this legal process, you can demand compensation from the opposition party for whatever damage they caused. While you probably think it will be more efficient to have the court handle your case, there are some details to consider in deciding how to handle an injury claim.
You may contact a reliable personal injury attorney to help you deal with this misfortune. In some cases, he’ll most likely advice you to consider a settlement out of court. But, before you agree on that, you must check if it would really be the most beneficial solution for you.
In such instances where an injury lawsuit settlement out of court is recommended, it’s natural to question whether this option is the most advantageous for you. Will this action result to the most favorable outcome for you?
Going to Court vs. Settling Out of Court in an Injury Lawsuit
Let’s dig deeper in understanding the differences between settling a lawsuit without going to court and taking your legal cases to the courtroom. It would be best to understand both first so that you can weigh your options fairly well.
If your lawyer does suggest that it would be best to take your personal injury case into trial, this means that a judge or jury will be responsible in deciding whether the offending party will need to compensate you for damages and for how much the cost would be.
A jury trial for personal injury is broken down in different phases such as:
- The assembly of the jury
- Provision of the opening statements
- Testimonials of the witness and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Instruction of the jury
- Evaluation and verdict of the jury
Such trial could go on for as short as a few hours to a couple of weeks in total, and in many cases, the outcome of the trial would take months or years. Even with a short period, this still entails thorough preparation by attorneys of both parties.
On the other hand, if you and your lawyer decide to take this legal matter into your own hands and without the help of the jury, then injury lawsuit settlements without court is a better approach. If you accept an out-of-court settlement, then litigation is no longer necessary.
It all starts with a demand letter submitted by your lawyer which will contain the amount that you require as damages, provided that evidence is also included to support such demand. The offending party will then respond to it, as well as their insurance company (if there is any). A negotiation for both parties will start and, sometimes, would lead to a counteroffer by the offending party.
Reaching a settlement is the main goal for doing this negotiation. Once an agreement is finally made, then both parties can finally sign a formal settlement document, and this will include the release of liability. After any accident that results to injuries, the only thing that parties would wish for is to get back to their normal lives.
Merits of Taking an Out-of-Court Settlement
In the event that you and your lawyer agree that a settlement out of the courtroom is a more probable solution, here are the several benefits for you:
- Less Stress
As expected in any court trial, the process can be daunting and stressful for everyone involved. Presenting a case before the judge and the jury is more than what you imagine it to be. You and the opposing party will be examined, with a thorough scrutinization of your character, background, and current status. This means you’ll need to be available for questioning and other litigation purposes each time your appearance is requested.
Moreover, the trial date approaches, a lot of work is required from both parties, not just the lawyers. However, you can avoid all these stress-evoking processes with a settlement. An agreement for both parties will be negotiated in which the offending party usually pays some damages to you. After the settlement is done, you can forget about the unfortunate incident, and focus more on recovering physically and mentally.
- Saves You from Spending for Litigation Fees
Going to trial requires much cost and time. Once your case goes to trial, it would take more time than expected. The costs would truly go up. This is not a practical, especially if the personal injury is not that serious. When you have exhausted too much funds for the trial, you might also lose your steam in pursuing to win the case.
You don’t only need to pay for your lawyer’s fee, but other expenses required as well for documentation. You might also need to calculate the costs for travel and the lost time from work due to your need to appear in the courtroom.
Settling out of court will save you from all these financial burdens. In fact, you’ll receive your agreed compensation from the opposing party after your negotiation. Remember that apart from the cost of going to trial, you also have costs for the treatment of your injuries.
Although the jury can possibly require the offending party to pay more money for the damages caused, you’ll have to deduct the compensation from all the expenses incurred for the trial. This might leave you with an amount lower than the settlement money that you could have accepted in the first place.
- Protects Your Privacy
Once your case goes to trial, it will automatically get publicized. This means other people will have access to your case and will judge the situation according to their own thoughts and opinions. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, being falsely judged by others may not sit well with you. People could get pretty nosy in some legal cases, and their negative comments and opinions will add more emotional and mental stress to you and your family.
Court proceedings may require you to answer relevant personal questions, which might no longer be comfortable for you, but is necessarily demanded by the jury. However, if you decide to settle out-of-court, you can retain your privacy and keep everything between you, your family, and the offending party. Your medical history or other private details will not be available for public record, and you won’t have to worry about sharing your personal information to anyone else.
- Gives You the Upper Hand to Accept or Decline an Offer
You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to accepting or rejecting settlement proposals. Your personal injury lawyer can carefully assess the negotiation and give you the best advice on the settlement offer. The terms given in the settlement are understandable, and you can weigh all your risks before finally agreeing to the terms. This allows for a more flexible system of dealing, compared with a trial where you should accept what the judge says and decides on.
Being in the courtroom means your case is in the mercy of the judge or the jury. In spite of you following strict laws, their decisions sometimes could be unpredictable. There are no guarantees in court, so you won’t ever know what to expect regarding the results of your trial. In spite of having enough evidence, the jury might have a contradictory perspective and decision which is unfavorable to your party.
- Results in a Faster Agreement
It will take some time before your trial will finally commence, and this is quite common in the system. The court schedules your trial dates, so you’ll be in the waiting game for some time. In spite of winning the case, your opponent might appeal the outcome, resulting to prolonged agony and stress over the lawsuit. Even with a simple personal injury case, there is a possibility for the entire process to take more years.
With a settlement, everything will be done with no hassles in terms of time. Settling your case out-of-court may lead up to a couple of months maximum. This means you’ll have the compensation in your pocket in no time. There is no need for you to give up your working time, and you can go right back to your routine after the settlement is finished.
The best approach to circumstances like this is to prepare for your case as though you’re in a lawsuit. This will give the offending party the idea that you mean business and that you’re seriously considering to go into trial if the situation requires it.
If the other party is not willing to cooperate in the settlement process or is not willing to offer you a fair compromise, then it would be best to take it to court. It’s imperative to be keen with your options and continue to seek expert advice from your personal injury attorney so that you can get rightfully compensated, which can support you in recovering successfully.