If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you can either settle your personal injury claim out of court or take your case to trial to get compensated for your damages.
We advise you to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss the details of your case. After that discussion, you can determine whether you should settle your claim or go to court.
Statistically speaking, up to 96% of all personal injury cases in the United States are settled before trial. But just because most personal injury claims are settled pretrial doesn’t necessarily mean that you should settle your claim without going to trial.
Settling a personal injury claim vs. taking it to court
We’ve prepared a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of settling a personal injury claim and the advantages and disadvantages of filing a lawsuit. You should consult with a knowledgeable attorney in your state to help you make an informed decision.
Whether your personal injury case will settle before court proceedings or proceed to trial depends on many details of your case.
Please schedule a consultation with our personal injury attorneys at Howe.Law to give you an estimate of what your case is worth and determine whether you should agree to settle your claim out of court or take it to court.
The pros and cons of settling your personal injury claim out of court
There are at least five advantages of settling your claim out of court:
#1 You can enjoy more privacy.
Any court proceedings become public records when a personal injury case goes to trial. For this reason, if you want to keep the details of your case private, it may be best to settle your claim before court proceedings begin.
#2 You can resolve your case faster.
Taking your personal injury claim to trial can extend the timeline of your case from months to years. If you’re looking for a faster resolution and want to receive compensation as soon as possible, settling your claim might be a better alternative.
#3 The process is less stressful.
Taking your case to court is not only time-consuming but also very stressful. Going to court to resolve your personal injury case can take a toll on your emotional health while settling your claim out of court can help you avoid much stress.
#4 The process is more predictable and straightforward.
When you settle your claim, you are guaranteed to receive a specified amount of damages. The same cannot be said when you take your case to trial because court proceedings can be quite unpredictable. If you choose to settle your claim out of court, the agreed-upon settlement amount is the amount you will receive.
#5 You can save on legal and attorney fees.
Settling your claim out of court is usually less expensive than going to court. You can save on legal fees because there will be less paperwork. Your attorney will charge you less if they don’t need to spend time preparing your case for trial, finding expert witnesses, taking depositions, and providing other legal services.
Drawbacks of Out-of-Court Settlements
While the above-mentioned advantages of settling a personal injury claim are rather significant, you should also become familiar with the potential drawbacks of out-of-court settlements:
#1 You may receive less than you deserve.
If you opt for a settlement, you may end up settling your claim for less than you would have received if you had taken your case to trial. This is especially true for cases involving serious injuries when insurance coverage cannot cover all of your damages.
#2 The insurer may try to drag out the process.
While settling personal injury cases is usually faster than going to court, the insurance company may be slow in responding to your claim or may employ other delay tactics in the hopes that you agree to settle the claim for less than you deserve. Under Georgia law, insurance companies must either accept or deny your claim within 30 days after receiving it (C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1).
#3 A settlement is permanent.
When you accept the insurance company’s settlement offer, you automatically waive your right to any further compensation for your injury. Even if your injuries get worse or you discover new injuries after settling your case, you will not be able to seek additional compensation.
#4 You have no access to punitive damages.
A plaintiff can significantly increase the value of their personal injury case by seeking punitive damages through a lawsuit. However, punitive damages are only available in cases involving willful misconduct or gross negligence.
Depending on where you live, punitive damages are awarded when the plaintiff can prove:
- Fraud, malice, wantonness, oppression, or willful misconduct in Georgia (C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1);
- Malice, intentional act, recklessness, or fraudulent conduct in Tennessee (TCA § 29-39-104); and
- Gross negligence, recklessness, wantonness, malice, fraudulent conduct, or willful misconduct in Mississippi ( Code § 11-1-65).
The pros and cons of taking your personal injury case to trial
If you’re considering going to court, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of taking your personal injury case to trial. It’s vital to retain legal counsel to help you choose the most appropriate option in your particular case.
Benefits of Going to Court
The benefits of going to court to get a personal injury settlement or verdict include the following:
The jury verdict is usually larger than the settlement amount offered pretrial.
A jury award is usually much larger than the amount an insurance company is willing to pay. Typically, insurance companies settle claims that fall within their policy limits, and injured parties end up accepting less than what they deserve. Going to court allows you to recover 100% of your damages and even beyond that.
You can hold the at-fault party accountable.
The at-fault party or their insurance company can settle a personal injury claim without ever admitting fault. Taking your case to court may allow you to hold the at-fault party accountable for negligence or wrongdoing. Thus, taking your case to court offers a greater sense of accountability and may provide much-needed closure.
A neutral and objective party will resolve your case.
Litigation involves a judge and a jury. Both decide who was at fault and what amount of damages should be awarded to the plaintiff.
You could be entitled to punitive damages.
As mentioned earlier, taking your case to trial provides access to punitive damages. These dmages are awarded in cases involving recklessness, gross negligence, wantonness, and other forms of egregious conduct.
Disadvantages of Going to Court
Just like settling a claim, taking your case to trial has its own pros and cons. Some of the most prominent disadvantages of going to court include:
The uncertainty of taking your case to trial.
Litigation is always unpredictable. While it could result in a much larger settlement amount or verdict, you could also end up losing your case. When your case goes to trial, you allow the judge and jury to have complete control over the outcome. You should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your particular situation and determine what to expect from taking your case to trial.
Litigation is a lengthy and time-consuming process.
Settling your case out of court may allow you to move on with your life sooner. A trial is usually a lengthy and time-consuming process that can extend the timeline of your case. If you decide to take your claim to trial, you will need to wait a while. The court proceedings could last from several months to a year or longer beyond the initial claims process.
Taking your case to trial can be costly.
Even if you obtain a larger verdict, a percentage of your awarded damages will cover the legal and attorney fees and litigation expenses.
Trials are public records.
Trials are a matter of public record. If you want the details of your personal injury case to remain private, you can keep your case confidential by settling the claim pretrial.
You have the burden of proof.
If you want to take your personal injury case to trial, you will have to prepare a solid case to secure a favorable outcome. That’s because plaintiffs in personal injury cases have the burden of proof to establish that the other party was negligent in recovering damages. You will be required to present evidence proving that the other party was negligent. You will also have to prove that their negligence led to the accident and that you suffered injuries and damages as a result of that accident.
Where to Find Help With Settling Your Personal Injury Claim
If you cannot decide whether to settle your personal injury claim or take it to trial, you should speak with a skilled attorney to discuss your unique case and weigh your options. Howe.Law has a reputation in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi for strong negotiation skills and aggressive litigation strategies. Over the past decades, our personal injury attorneys have helped clients secure favorable settlements and trial outcomes.
Every personal injury case is unique, which is why what works for someone who was injured under the same or similar circumstances may not work for you. Please schedule a consultation with our results-driven and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Howe.Law to evaluate your case. Call us at 844-876-4357 for a case review.