One of the questions we hear often is, “Should I settle my case, or do I have to go to court?” Television and movies focus on dramatic courtroom settings, but most of the time cases are settled out of court.
And for good reason, too. There are a lot of benefits to settling a case, provided you hired an experienced lawyer to negotiate for you. Insurance companies and other defendants don’t always play fair when you deal with them directly, so if you hire a personal injury attorney, it shows you mean business.
Trials can take a very long time to get to start and finish
Once you’ve realized that a just settlement is simply not going to happen, and you make the decision to go before a jury, the waiting game begins. There can be a long delay before the case is listed for trial. The reasons for the delay may include motions by the defense lawyers that need to be reviewed, or a backlog in the local court system.
When you finally do get your day in court, it can still take a long time before your compensation award is available. The defendants may appeal the decision to a higher court, which can take months or even a year or so to resolve. If the appeal goes the defendant’s way, you have to decide all over again if you want to restart the trial process.
With a settlement, you don’t have to wait that long. A determination is made, and most clients receive their compensation in a matter of weeks, instead of months or maybe even years.
Trials are expensive
Settlements cost less because there are fewer people involved.
In addition to court costs for a trial, there are often expensive witness fees. In personal injury cases, it is often necessary that physicians be called to testify. Doctors generally charge the amount of money they could make if they stayed at their office. The cost of medical testimony at a trial, which has to be paid from any verdict, can be quite expensive.
That being said, these costs are often defrayed because we take our cases on contingency. This means that we don’t get paid unless we win your case, and we cover the costs of the trial, so no money comes out of your pocket up front. Once you win, your creditors are paid off first, and then we take our fee, so that the remainder of the money goes to you in full.
Trials can be very stressful
For most injury victims, their injury case is the only time they may ever be involved with the litigation process. Reaching a just settlement means the client doesn’t have to worry about:
- Living with the uncertainty of how the case will turn out
- Worrying about what questions the defense lawyer may ask
- Worrying about whether the judge may be friendly or short-tempered
- Going through the preparation needed to prepare for trial
- Making a case that convinces a jury to side with him or her
Injury victims also have concerns about being in the same room with the defendants. Many injury victims don’t want to relive their accidents. They want to move on with their lives. With a settlement, you know how much you’re getting from the start, so you don’t have to worry about any of the stresses that go with a trial.
Settlements are private
Generally, if you settle your case, then nobody outside of the lawyers, adjusters, defendants, and you will know you filed a claim. Most jury cases are open to the public. The press may sit in on the trial. Anyone can watch the trial. In addition, court verdicts are made part of court records whereas settlements are generally confidential.
At Larson Law Firm P.C., our personal injury lawyers in Minot and Bismarck explain the pros and cons of going to trial or negotiating a settlement. We’ve obtained numerous substantial settlements for our clients. For help with an accident case in North Dakota, call us today at 701-484-HURT or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
I opened up my firm because I wanted to offer people something different. My staff and I take pride in a client-oriented approach to serving the needs of our clients, hoping that they always feel the door is open to them and their wishes. My office prides itself on state-of-the-art technology and cost-effective means to provide services.
Read more about Mark V Larson