October 21, 2016
The majority of personal injury plaintiffs will be troubled with making this decision at some point throughout their lawsuit. Do you settle and often receive less than what you think your case is worth or do you risk it for the biscuit at trial? Statistics show that nearly 95% of all personal injury cases settle before going to trial, and for good reason. Jury verdicts, whether in civil or criminal cases, are simply unpredictable, for example, Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson. No one in their right mind would have anticipated such verdicts. That said, would settling your case be the best option? Are those who settle outside of trial taking the easy way out, receiving less that what is deserved? The answer is not always black and white, but the decision to settle or go to trial should be made by the plaintiff, serving the plaintiff’s best interest. Before opting one way or the other, weigh out some of the benefits and concerns of settlement given below.
The term “Settlement” is nothing more than legal jargon referring to a formal resolution of a legal dispute without the issue being decided by a jury or court. Typically, the defendant offers a certain amount of money in exchange for the release of liability in connection with the underlying incident in question. Settlements can happen at any stage throughout the civil lawsuit or even before a lawsuit is filed.
Upside of Settling a Case
When Should You Not Settle
In some cases, one or both parties are not motivated to settle. These cases most often involve one of two issues: liability and causation. If the defendant has an argument that he/she is not liable and believes there’s a chance to win outright at trial, any settlement offers brought to the table will not be remotely realistic enough to settle. The only option for resolution in such a case would be a jury trial.
Causation – Did the defendant’s actions, regardless of if he/she was negligent, legally cause the injuries you are claiming. This type of situation frequently arises when the plaintiff had a pre-existing injury or condition. Cases involving liability and causation can be especially difficult to settle if the damages are very large. From a defendant’s standpoint, there may be a chance to pay nothing at trial if coming to an agreement on a reasonable settlement figure is unmanageable. From a plaintiff’s standpoint, a low settlement offer is just not tolerable because of accumulating medical bills, lost wages and the chance to be fully compensated with a win at trial.
Who is Responsible For a Settlement Decision?
An experienced lawyer will consider all factors of the proposed settlement and assist in determining if the client’s losses will be adequately compensated. While it is the responsibility of the attorney to analyze whether or not settlement is in the client’s best interest, it is ultimately the client’s decision in determining if settling out of court is the best option.