If you were recently injured in a
car accident, on someone else’s property, at
work, or anyplace else and you’re considering filing a
personal injury claim, and you’re hesitant because you don’t want it to go
to trial, then this post should help you.
While personal injury cases can settle out of court or go to trial, by
far the majority of them settle outside of court. In fact, over 90% of
personal injury cases settle. Why is this?
There are a number of reasons why so many cases settle out of court. For
starters, most (but not all) personal injury claims involve an insurance
company. Insurance companies don’t like trials because they are
unpredictable, they lead to bad press, and they incur significant legal fees.
For plaintiffs (injured parties), settling is often an attractive alternative
over trial for several reasons, such as:
- Juries are unpredictable.
- Even if the plaintiff wins, the jury may award less than what the insurance
company offered initially.
- There’s always a slight chance (however small) that a plaintiff will lose.
- Plaintiffs receive a check must faster when they settle.
- Court trials involve significantly more legal fees than settling, which
are deducted from a percentage of the jury award.
- Court trials can drag on for over a year, meaning the plaintiff has to
wait a long time to get their money. This can be very hard on the plaintiff
and their family if the plaintiff has been out of work and is incurring
thousands in medical expenses.
With a settlement, usually the defendant’s insurer, or the defendant
themselves (if they have money) offers the plaintiff a certain amount
of money – this is called a settlement offer. If the plaintiff accepts
the offer, they have to agree not to sue the defendant any further and
not to seek more damages in the future.
Juries Make Insurance Companies Nervous
If the parties cannot agree on a settlement, then the case will go to trial.
At any point during the trial, the parties can agree on a settlement –
as long as it’s before the jury comes back with a verdict.
Often, an insurance company will offer a deal to a plaintiff while the
jury is deliberating because the insurance company is nervous. Or, the
plaintiff will accept an offer made earlier because he or she is nervous
about the forthcoming jury verdict.
Other times, a case will go to trial and the fate of the case will be decided
by a jury. This commonly occurs when the defendant’s insurance company
refuses to offer a fair settlement. While the vast majority of personal
injury claims are settled out of court, there is definitely a time and
a place to resolve a case through a jury trial.
If you’re looking for a Columbia personal injury attorney,
contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC for a free case evaluation!