If you are considering filing a
personal injury claim and you’ve never done it before, you’re probably curious
to know how the claims process works. Will your case go to trial? Or,
will your case settle out of court? Generally, it will be one or the other.
For starters, the vast majority (about 95%) of personal injury claims settle
out of court. So, if you have a valid personal injury claim and you decide
to pursue it, chances are it’s going to result in a negotiated settlement;
however, that’s not guaranteed. It could go to trial, it’s
just less likely. As a general rule, both sides are motivated to settle
because trials are unpredictable, they take longer, and they cost a lot
more than settling.
How Settlements Work
As we mentioned earlier, about 95% of personal injury claims never make
it to trial – they typically end in an out-of-court settlement.
So, what is a settlement? It’s a legally binding contract between
the injured party (the plaintiff) and the defendant (the at-fault party).
With a settlement, the plaintiff agrees to accept monetary compensation
in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. Once a settlement agreement is reached,
it’s presented to a judge, who makes it legally-enforceable, much
like a marital settlement or divorce settlement.
Like divorce, no two settlements are identical. Even if two cases are very
similar, they will end in different settlements because each case has
its own facts, variables and circumstances that are unique. However, most
all settlement awards address compensation for:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income (past, present, and future)
When Cases Go to Trial
Even though most cases settle out of court, there is a time and a place
for trial. Typically, a case will go to trial when the defendant is unreasonable
or unwilling to agree to a fair settlement. If the plaintiff wins at trial,
he or she will receive compensation for their medical bills, lost wages,
pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any property damage (car accidents).
In the worst-case scenario, if the defendant (at-fault party) wins, the
plaintiff does not receive any compensation for their injuries. Instead,
the plaintiff can actually be held liable for the defendant’s legal
fees and court costs, which is not an ideal result.
We hope this information helps you better understand the difference between
settlements and trials. If you’re looking for a
Columbia personal injury attorney, don’t hesitate to
contact our firm to set up a free case evaluation.